EDITORIAL: When law goes to the dogs

We frequently use this space to criticize government bodies and urge politicians to plot a different course. Sometimes we praise our representatives for doing the right thing. Seldom do we see an elected official, in taking a stand and publicly demanding an end to wasteful nonsense, deserving of a standing ovation. And high fives and fist bumps. And maybe even a hug.

OK, a hug is going to far. That would be quite inappropriate, especially for a judge. But what Ken Cory did Wednesday was so marvelous — so adult — we’re having a hard time containing ourselves.

The District Court judge is refereeing a legal battle between attorneys for the Prince and Princess Pet Boutique, the Animal Foundation and Clark County. They’re going to the mat over who will control the adoptions of 27 dogs that survived arson at the pet store.

The store’s co-owner and an associate face trial on more than two dozen criminal counts in connection with the fire. Predictably, the story has attracted national attention — nothing gets pet afficionados fired up like someone caught trying to burn animals to death. But all this puppy love has people acting like rabid dogs over who will have the right to find homes for the animals.

The county took the dogs after the January fire and gave them to the Animal Foundation, which planned an adoption raffle. However, the store’s other co-owner, Donald Thompson, wants an animal rescue group, A Home 4 Spot, to find homes for the dogs.

Considering the state just witnessed a nearly two-year legal battle to spare the life of Onion, a dog that killed a child, the prospect of even more doggie drama in District Court was simply too much for Judge Cory to stand. So he went off on the litigants, demanding they work it out in closed-door settlement talks within 45 days.

“We are here seated chewing up taxpayer resources … simply to resolve who gets to place the dogs,” the judge said.

“May I suggest to all the parties in all earnestness this is not a good expenditure of taxpayer resources in a city where we have thousands of people, people who are homeless. In a city where we have all kinds of human needs, perhaps we would be better off to expend resources there rather than trying to save, not save dogs, no … just trying to decide who gets to place them.”

“Whatever is behind the continued animus here, the continued prolongation of these proceedings, I suggest to you is not really simply a consideration of what’s best for the dogs,” the judge said.

Amen. Judge Cory also imposed a gag order on the parties, preventing them from talking to the media, and banned media cameras from his courtroom for any future hearings related to the case. We staunchly oppose measures that limit public access to the courts — especially during Sunshine Week — but Judge Cory’s larger message here is too important to marginalize. Bravo, Judge Cory, for saying what others won’t.

For the love of Pete, keep pets out of Nevada’s courts.