North Las Vegas is on the verge of amending its definition of “animal cruelty.”
Hoarding too many animals could get you a fine, jail time — and maybe a trip to the shrink. A longtime ban on rodeos could be lifted. And, pet shops might be required to solely sell animals that were found at the pound.
The three provisions are part of an updated animal cruelty ordinance that was formally read into the record Wednesday night without comment from the City Council. A vote is expected March 1.
“It’s a matter of educating the public about the mistreatment of animals, and addressing the issue when it’s intentional or unintentional,” said North Las Vegas City Councilman Richard Cherchio, who developed the updated ordinance.
North Las Vegas wants to make it illegal for anyone to own “a number of animals in a quantity” that can’t be adequately cared for, although a specific numeral was not cited.
Violators could face a $500 fine, up to six months in jail and a possible psychiatric evaluation to be paid by the offender.
Convicted hoarders may also be prohibited from owning another pet, and could be subject to quarterly home inspections, according to a draft of the ordinance. Subsequent violations could result in a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
“You can cause more harm than good when you have 50 animals in your home,” Cherchio said. “People mean well by taking in stray animals, but a mental disorder is involved in many hoarding cases.”
While hoarding may be off the table, city officials are hoping to cash in on the popularity of rodeos.
North Las Vegas is looking to shed its distinction as the only Southern Nevada municipality to prohibit rodeos. Reversing the longtime stance would make the city “economically competitive” with other areas that allow the events, according to a city report.
Last year, the City Council considered whether to lift the rodeo ban, but the issue was shelved because animal rights activists opposed a provision that would have allowed the tripping of cattle and horses — a roping event that intentionally forces the animals to fall.
Moving forward, the ordinance would outlaw animal tripping and other practices deemed to be cruel. If rodeos are eventually held in North Las Vegas, then an official from the city’s Animal Services Department would be assigned to monitor the shows, Cherchio said.
“There are a lot of reputable rodeos out there that continue a rich heritage without engaging in cruelty,” Cherchio said.
There might not be any pet shops in North Las Vegas, but city officials are planning for the future. The city’s new set of rules would also require pet shops to only sell animals from shelters and nonprofit pet-rescue groups, following a similar decision adopted last year by neighboring Las Vegas.
Cherchio said he wants to prepare in hopes of barring store owners from purchasing animals from puppy mills and commercial breeders. If approved, pet shops would have to maintain records on how each pet is acquired.