New Storey dog law would require leashing, poop scooping

Dog owners would not be allowed to let their pets run at large and would have to pick up their dogs' feces, if Storey County commissioners give their approval to the changes.

The amendments to an ordinance also lay out rules for the handling of dangerous dogs, described by Storey County District Attorney Harold Swafford as any dog who has bitten a person or another animal, excepting if the person bitten was a trespasser on the dog owner's private property.

He said there have been several incidents in the past year where dogs running loose have attacked other people or animals, one being only a few weeks ago when a middle-school student walking his own dog in the Virginia City Highlands was bitten by three loose dogs. The student was not seriously injured.

Another incident in the same neighborhood involved loose dogs that went on another person's porch to attack their cat. The cat survived.

In another incident, Swafford said, a dog was walking with its owner off-leash and the animal bit a woman who was carrying a small dog in her arms.

But the worst incident in the past year, he said, was at the 2007 Grand Prix motorcycle event, where a dog was tied to the bumper of a jeep while the owner went to ride motorcycles. A woman and her 2-year-old walked by and the dog lunged for the child, just putting teeth indentations on the child, without breaking the skin.

"That was the closest call," Swafford said. "Had he been an inch closer it would have been tragic for that baby. The mother was right there and she didn't know the dog was there."

The amended ordinance will also require the use of leashes not more than 6 feet long, and for the owners to carry devices such as containers or plastic bags to pick up their animals' feces and properly dispose of it.

Something tourists traveling with their dogs occasionally do will also be banned. Under the proposed ordinance, it will be unlawful to tether your animal to public property or private property not your own and leave the animal. Some tourists have tied their dogs outside Virginia City restaurants while they go in to eat.

"People are not being reasonable in the way they treat their animals," he said. "We're kind of libertarians, where you live and let live. We don't want to make everyone tie their dogs up, but they're (dog owners) forcing us to do this for the protection of the public.

The commissioners will vote on the amendments after the second reading at an upcoming meeting.


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