LV Council approves increase in pet ownership, rejects more regulation of animal pros

By: - January 5, 2023 2:12 pm

City of Las Vegas residents can now have up to six cats or dogs. (Photo courtesy Nevada Voters for Animals)

Residents of Las Vegas can now own up to six dogs or cats without obtaining special permits, up from the four previously allowed. 

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman voted against the measure after Councilwoman Olivia Diaz suggested small rental units could be overrun by pets.  Diaz and Goodman cast the only dissenting votes.  

“We want to get the dogs and cats and animals off the street into care. That’s the most important piece here,” Goodman said, referring to a variety of concerns raised by the public, including transience, and the government-supported shelter’s refusal to accept dogs for more than a month last year as a virus circulated through kennels, and appointments set weeks out to turn in stray animals. “So, I feel terrible because I’m all for it, giving us all the right to have more animals, but not in a studio apartment that I have and I own and there are no regulations on that building.”  

Councilwoman Victoria Seaman, who sponsored the ordinance, assured Goodman and Diaz that landlords can limit or prohibit pet ownership among tenants.

Councilwoman Francis Allen-Palenske said Diaz’s concerns about square footage posed a “slippery slope. … If it’s a 1,200 square foot home, is it okay if they have three kids, to have six dogs?”

“I want to see from our staff, potentially should this pass, six months, nine months down the road –  has this really ameliorated the problem at the Animal Foundation, because that’s the overarching issue here,” Allen-Palenske said. “We want to have some sort of stop gap to make them more effective. And if it reduces the normal number of animals that come through the door I want to know that.”

Councilwoman Nancy Brune echoed those concerns, noting rural homes in Ward 6 may lack square footage while having ample acreage for animals. 

“We have so many dogs on the street,” said Brune, a dog foster parent, who said the proposal would allow people “who are taking in temporarily four to six dogs, with the biggest hearts” to be in compliance with the law.

Background checks, reporting of dead animals rejected

Seaman cast the only vote in favor of a measure she sponsored that would have expanded regulation of animal boarding and grooming facilities. The measure would have required background checks for employees, as well as notification of authorities when an animal required veterinary care or died.  

The proposed ordinance also would have required business owners to pay for an animal autopsy, if required by animal welfare officials, of a pet that died in their care.

Palenske suggested the state establish an extensive database of animal abusers that would make them known to the public, in the same manner as a sex offender database.

Of sports and strays

Goodman said Las Vegas is overrun with stray animals because it’s a tourist town. The mayor,  who along with her husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman, championed Las Vegas as a pro sports destination, now says fans who have flocked here to cheer on their teams are dumping their animals.

“We all love our animals. But having also spoken with a lot of fans these past years that are coming and moving into Nevada because of our major league sports, I have heard from several directly that they have brought animals into our state that they can’t handle and they just let them go here in Southern Nevada which increases the number of dogs.”  

Animal activists noted that intake at the government-funded Animal Foundation has decreased during the last decade.  They blame the shelter’s recent woes on mismanagement. An audit of TAF’s operations requested by Seaman is expected to be completed within two months, officials said. 

The council, also at the request of Seaman, heard a report on its options when its contract with TAF runs out in 2025.  The city currently pays less than $2 million a year to support TAF, which is also funded by Clark County and North Las Vegas. Striking out on its own would cost the city $35 million in capital costs alone, according to staff.

The city’s inventory of shelter operations throughout Southern Nevada revealed that no existing agency is equipped to offer all the services the city would require to operate its own shelter, including space for some 200 dog kennels.

Hearts Alive Village “started checking off many of the boxes that we need for a service provider,“ animal welfare official Rudy Tovar told the council. Heaven Can Wait has veterinary services but lacks holding space. NSPCA accepts surrenders, facilitates adoptions, and has veterinary care, but lacks holding capacity.

The Animal Foundation has “the largest physical holding capacity,” Tovar said, but “they still have to take into account their capacity for care.”

Staff told the council that routine inspections of TAF have not revealed major problems, other than concerns about staffing levels.

“It’s not necessarily the inspections that are happening on the inside. It’s what’s happening on the outside,” Seaman said, referring to TAF’s delays in accepting strays and suspension of dog intakes last year. “There are animals running  in the streets. This is not a new problem.”

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.