Humane Society Says New Laws Mean Nevada Is Now Nicer To Animals


By Sean Whaley

Nevada News Bureau

In the photo: Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, saw passage of her bill regulating the use of leg hold traps./Nevada News Bureau file photo

The Humane Society of the United States says Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Legislature enacted several important measures to strengthen Nevada’s protections for animals in the just-ended 2011 session.

“We commend Gov. Sandoval and Nevada lawmakers for passing this raft of legislation to protect animals from cruelty and abuse,” said Holly Haley, Nevada state director for the organization. “The anti-cruelty laws of a state are a reflection of our basic values and attitudes toward animals, and this collection of bills is a measurable step forward for the state of Nevada.”

Not all the bills aimed at animal issues were successful in the session.

Senate Bill 364, which proposed to ban horse tripping, a practice of roping a horse’s legs used in some non-sanctioned rodeos, failed to win approval in the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Supporters of the bill, including the Humane Society, said the practice is cruel and does occur in some non-advertised rodeos in Nevada.

Opponents said the proposal was an attempt to open the door to banning other types of rodeo events, and ultimately, rodeos themselves. Testimony in opposition showed that the Professional Cowboys Association has long banned horse tripping as a rodeo event and sanctioned rodeos, like the Reno rodeo, have not had a horse-tripping event in 50 years.

But other measures saw success.

Senate Bill 223, sponsored by Sen. Shirley Breeden, D-Henderson, and Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, known as “Cooney’s Law” after a dog brutally killed with a box cutter, was the highest profile animal welfare measure considered during the session. The new law makes willful or malicious cruelty to pet animals a felony on the first offense. Under previous law, a felony charge could be issued only after a third act of cruelty.

“I’m so proud of the efforts by Nevada animal advocates to get the job done,” said Gina Greisen, president of Nevada Voters for Animals, who helped author the legislation. “I want abusers in Nevada to know their behavior will not be tolerated if they choose to harm a helpless animal.”

Senate Bill 226, sponsored by Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, Parks, and Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, D-Las Vegas, requires the wildlife commission to regulate leg hold traps in congested areas.

Senate Bill 299, sponsored by Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, requires commercial dog breeders to be licensed and to have regular county inspections, bans the stacking of cages and the use of wire floors in puppy mills, and prohibits the breeding of dogs younger than 18 months of age. The bill applies only to commercial breeders selling dogs as pets, and exempts hobby breeders.

Senate Bill 102, proposed by the Senate Natural Resources Committee, imposes civil penalties for illegally killing or possessing a trophy big game mammal, or for illegally killing or possessing certain wildlife species.

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