KayLynn Roberts-McMurray
The White Pine County Commission is discussing repealing an existing regulation that a dog must have a license.

If you live in the city, you will need to license your dog, but if you live in the county, you won’t. That is exactly what will happen if the County Commission passes proposed Ordinance 508, Bill No. 01.22.2020, an ordinance that is amending Chapter 8.04 of the White Pine County Code, repealing the existing regulation that a dog owner must license the animal.

A dog license is $10 a year for a spayed or neutered dog, $20 a year for a an unaltered dog, and proof of a rabies vaccination is required. 

Commissioner Travis Godon was the requestor for this particular ordinance, explaining that he didn’t have a vested interest in the item. “You know, more freedom less government, that’s not bull—- for me, that’s…why I look at things, and you know I just look at this, here we have our law enforcement officers dealing with drug cartel and yet we are prosecuting people for their dogs on occasion and stuff, we are rural Nevada, White Pine County.”

Godon noted that he ran the ordinance through the channels, noting he asked the District Attorney Mike Wheable, airing on the side that enforcement for animals would still be needed, but he was informed that other ordinances were still in place. 

How does keeping the ordinance intact apply? A dog license helps animal control and law enforcement quickly identify a dog so that it can be returned to its owner quickly and safely. It is also an immediate notification that a dog has received its required rabies vaccination, which is the law. 

The backup material was referenced by Godon that $600 was the net revenue. “By the time you factor in administration costs, we are losing money on this, I’m just looking at this, a free society, trying to make this county a free place to live, or a liberty place to live, I just look at this as what are we trying to do here?”

A records request from Judge Steve Bishop showed that 14 citations were written for unlicensed dog in the county.  One citation is $100 for the charge, and after administration and court fees are tacked on, a ticket could cost up to $240. Five of the citations were dismissed by the District Attorneys office, three were paid in full, two are pending, three are currently making payments, and one ticket was resolved by way of community service.  

Commissioner Ian Bullis was in support of Godon. He said, “Regarding the concern about pets being identified, having tags and stuff, I’d say it’s pretty common, pretty much my whole life owning pets, whether or not they have been licensed, it’s been common and expected to go to a pet store or anywhere else and have name tags put on the pets, so I think repsonsible owners who care about their pets, would be the same people called to license their pet. 

“They are going to take the time to put a tag on their pet whether the are licensed or not. I agree with Travis’s perspective on this.  One more thing to waste our time, bothering people about.”

Commissioner Lauri Carson felt different on the item, disagreeing with the other two commissioners. 

”It would have been really appropriate to have a conversation with the mayor in regards to get feedback,” she said.  “He didn’t feel that this was the answer, to totally abolish it, in some ways I agree with it, maybe there’s a way to encourage more responsibility. We have one gentleman that is animal control, so this also helps fund him,  I think we can maybe look at a better way.”

Howe said, “I looked at this, we have a shared agreement with the city. A lot of our calls with animal control, is McGill, and outlining areas. Simple license fee, even though the dollar figures don’t sound like a lot I think anything we can put into the enforcement of animal control s good on our part as the county, it shows that we want everything to be on board.”

Wheable invited Sheriff Scott Henriod to the podium to express his thoughts on the item. Henriod explained to the commission that whatever decision was made, he asked that several items be left in the ordinance.  

“Dog at large, make sure it stays in, because that is a detriment to our society when dogs are running, and we need be able to track vaccinations,” he said. “Rabies has to be tracked. It’s mandated when they come to license their dog, they have to show proof of vaccination, and what we requires is the rabies. I ask that you pay specific attention to those things.”  

Henriod commented that Bullis was correct on identification of a pet, but also expressed we did not need a rabies outbreak in White Pine County. 

Carson said, “I personally feel like if we do this, I would consider it a lack of responsibility as county managers. Even thought the cost is $595.95 as far as expense, out of $1,160, it’s still $564 that goes into the county coffers, and I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with this ordinance.” 

Bullis, spoke on his opinion of the principle or the ordinance, “It’s not about a financial one, it’s about not having the government think it has to manage every little thing in ones life, and I would chalk this up like firearms control or anything else, just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean people don’t do it.  

“If we got a true poll of how many were and were not licensing their pets, it just seems like a unnecessary thing, it’s not stopping problems, anyways I’m just looking at the numbers, and how many citations, compared to how many animals, in this community, it’s a drop in the bucket, its a waste of time and effort.”

Research shows that dogs that are licensed tend to be kept at the shelter longer than unlicensed dogs, which are the first to be euthanized if their owners do not quickly claim them.  Euthanasia has not been an issue for quite some time, since the dismantling of the gas chamber, and PETA’s involvement with those efforts. 

Commissioner Shane Bybee had to abstain from the item due to a conflict of interest. 

Godon said, “Our governor wants to try to enforce background checks on private firearms sales, this is down the same radical, principally how are we going to enforce someone who gets their puppy and never licenses it, just saying.”

Carson said, “I think the analogy is way to far.”

Godon replied, “Well, I’m a conservative and that’s where it is, if you don’t like it, sorry.”  

The City of Ely Animal shelter currently is housing five dogs, one which has a license, two dogs contained collars without any type of identification, and the other two we’re without a collar or any type of identification. 

The second reading will be held at a meeting in February.