Silver Springs residents sue over right to own livestock

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Even as commissioners prepare to discuss today what some residents describe as a health hazard near their homes, Jerry and Ruby O'Dell are suing Lyon County for their right to own and sell livestock on 10 acres they own in Silver Springs.

The O'Dells' suit was filed in Lyon County's Third Judicial District Court on Friday after the issue was placed on the commission's agenda.

"Lyon County officials came out to my home in July and said we needed a business license," Ruby O'Dell said.

"So we put our money on the table and when we went to the county commissioner's meeting Aug. 15, our license was denied. They said we had an illegal business because it was a home occupation, rather than an agricultural operation. We have a ranch in Lyon County, no different than anywhere else in Nevada."

The issue arose after neighbors, Leandra and Tom Carr, complained the O'Dells lacked a business license and were running an illegal operation. Neighbor Paula Campbell complained of the smell, mosquitoes and flies.

Ruby O'Dell challenged both complaints. She said according to Lyon County code, commercial livestock is permitted on private property.

"My business does not require a business license and I'm legally licensed to buy livestock through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For me, that's the primary requirement," she said. "All of my horses are brand inspected. ... We have an aggressive fly-control program and there is no odor, fly problem or health hazard."

Attorney Mark Wray, who represents the O'Dells, said they shouldn't be forced to go to court to resolve the issue.

"They're standing up for everyone in Nevada with piece of land and livestock," he said. "We believe that when everyone stops looking at the politics and looks at the law, they will see that the O'Dells' position is right and has been from the beginning.

"They have done nothing to deserve the amount of trouble they've been put through and simply want it resolved, appropriately and legally."

The O'Dells keep about 40 horses and an assortment of goats, sheep and pigs. But Ruby O'Dell said her first love is the horses.

"I have a number of horses for sale and do horse rescue," she said. "I have one rescue gelding who's 35 years old. He weighed 635 pounds when I got him a year ago and weighs over 1,100 pounds now."

In addition to attorney's fees, suit costs and other appropriate relief, the O'Dells are asking for a judicial determination concerning the their rights and duties with respect to their horse business and a declaration that they are lawfully using their property.

The suit gives Lyon County officials 45 days to submit a written response.


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