The Churchill County Commissioners approved at their Thursday morning meeting to move forward with an ordinance for nuisance dogs or at-large dogs in the county.
Sheriff Ben Trotter informed the commissioners of the thousands of complaints the sheriff’s office receives each year with usually no resolution at the end.
“The sheriff’s office responds to far too many nuisance calls involving domestic dogs,” Trotter said. “These calls have a significant impact on our resources and time and our ability to effectively reduce these complaints is severely hampered by weak and vague Nevada Statutes and no county code.”
Trotter said the “fence out” reasoning is for livestock.
The sheriff’s office most problematic dog-related issues are at-large canines that chase people, attack people’s domestic animals or livestock or that bite people, he said.
“For those of us who love being outdoors or who use our roads for recreation, the concern of being attacked, chased or being confronted by a pack of unsupervised dogs is a reality,” Trotter said.
The sheriff said the heart of the issues is people permitting their dogs to run at-large. He said there are no statutes that holds owners responsible for their animals adversely affecting the peace and tranquility of a neighborhood.
Another issue that comes up is dog-related noise, but state law does not apply so all officers can do is ask the owners to quiet the animal(s), he said.
Several county residents and the commissioners spoke out in support for the ordinance.
County resident Lisa Bedell said over the years she has had dogs attack her livestock costing her $3,000 worth of damage. She said even though the dogs have been reported several times to the sheriff’s office, the dogs still run at large and their owner only got fined $75.
Emaline French said she is happy to see the dog ordinance come into place.
“In my neighborhood we have dogs running loose everyday,” French said. “We have an unfriendly dog that jumps our fence and comes into our yard. We’ve also had several dogs get hit and killed from running loose and it’s an awful thing to see.”
Resident Eric Webber has placed several dog-barking complaints. He said since 2013 he has been keeping a log on his neighbors’ dogs and has recorded more than 17 hours of video of the dogs barking. Webber said even though he has reported the nuisance dogs several times,the officers always tell him there is nothing they can do.
Shannon Miller said dog owners need to be responsible for their animals. She said on several occasions while walking her dogs she has been approached by dogs at large who have tried to attack her dogs.
Commissioner Bus Scharmann talked about his personal experience with a dog he owned and had trouble keeping in his yard that eventually bit a person. He said he had to be a responsible dog owner and do what was best for the animal and find it another home.
“I like to walk a lot,” Scharmann said. “In the area I live you can’t walk because the dogs will just come right after you. It’s a little scary. I have grandchildren who walk with their mom and dad and they just can’t do it because the dogs will come after them. I agree you can’t legislate responsibility — but we can make it difficult to have bad behavior and I think that’s what we need to do.”
Other items the county commissioners approved or discussed include the following:
Approved to rescind the following administrative policies: Acquiring and providing employment references, training policy and the sales and use Tax Abatement Policy for Geothermal Expansion in Churchill County.
Approved the one-year lease for the PATH Program lease with Rogne Realty for $15,600.
Approved to open a two-week comment period and hold a public hearing on Dec. 17, to finalize the recommendations for the application to be submitted to the Governor’s Office on Economic Development Community Development Block Grant program under urgent need.
Approved the amendment of agreement for professional services agreement between Churchill County and Pictometry International.
Approved contract between Churchill County and Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe for cost sharing of pictometry imaging.
Discussed and tabled the request from Anthony Enos for reimbursement/credit for investment made into the Wild Goose Ranch.
Approved the Yucca Mountain community survey results as conducted by Steve Johnson’s AP Science class. Approved transfers as approved by the Regional Transportation Commission.
Approved Storm’s Oasis Dairy LLC application for a sending site and assign 610 transferable development rights to the property upon recordation of conservation easement deed.
Approved the District Attorney’s Office to file a joint notice of appeal with TCID and the city of Fallon challenging the orders issued by Federal District Judge George modifying the Orr Ditch Decree.