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Las Vegans convicted of animal cruelty may be barred from owning a pet

Updated May 5, 2021 - 7:40 pm

Las Vegans convicted of mistreating and killing a pet will be barred from owning another one for up to five years after city officials on Wednesday broadened penalties for animal cruelty.

Under the ordinance spearheaded by Councilman Stavros Anthony, it will also be illegal to tether a pet outside for more than 10 hours during a 24-hour period or at all if the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory.

And during days when temperatures reach 105 degrees, pet owners must have cooling mechanisms in place such as misting systems and portable air conditioners.

The new rules on tethering bring the city’s animal cruelty codes into alignment with neighboring jurisdictions. The provision on duration is stricter than the state’s 14-hour limit.

“These protections are so important,” said Gina Greisen, president of the animal advocacy group Nevada Voters for Animals. “We deal with this all the time when summer comes.”

Anthony, who had first called upon the city in January to review its animal cruelty rules after a series of publicized incidents of abuse, said Wednesday that enforcement would be critical to ensuring that violators were punished to the fullest extent of the laws.

“We can’t let them get away with this,” he said.

Anthony also acknowledged that the community and animal welfare organizations had informed the new rules on tethering, mirroring changes made in December by North Las Vegas after a brown Labrador retriever named Lily died while tethered in the heat.

Late last month, the councilman said he believed that the restrictions on pet ownership were “the better part of the bill.” The city arrived at the concept by reviewing a number of state laws and local ordinances, spokesman Jace Radke said Wednesday.

Under the ordinance, the city’s municipal court will order anyone convicted of abusing a pet that dies to refrain from owning another animal for two to five years. That individual will also be barred from living in the same household as a pet or working at a place where they may have access to an animal, such as a shelter.

The rules are similar for individuals convicted of mistreating an animal that does not die, except the restrictions are authorized but not required, according to the bill. The restriction on pet ownership in abuse cases without death ranges up to four years instead of five.

Animal cruelty and torture is currently a misdemeanor crime in Las Vegas punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, up to six months in jail or both. Under state law, it is a felony to willfully and maliciously torture or kill a pet, according to a 2019 report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

The city can prosecute misdemeanor cases under state law, while felonies are handed over to the county district attorney’s office.

Wounded officer receives city recognition

Shay Mikalonis, the Metropolitan Police Department officer shot and seriously injured at the end of a Black Lives Matter demonstration in June, was named Citizen of the Month on Wednesday.

The City Council bestowed the May award to Mikalonis, 30, who returned home last month after a lengthy stay in a rehabilitation center. He is paralyzed from the neck down and authorities have said the suspected gunman who fired toward Mikalonis was not participating in the protest prior to the shooting.

When speaking about Mikalonis, Mayor Carolyn Goodman cited the “uniqueness of his strength and courage to come back.”

“He’s a man of solid steel and I know his heart is very, very strong,” she said.

Mikalonis’ stepfather Patrick Neville said his stepson, although “really excited,” felt undeserving to receive the award and instead gave credit to his fellow officers, the ambulance crew and University Medical Center professionals who saved his life.

“He paused for a minute, and he said, ‘why am I getting this award? I just got shot.’” Neville said.

City officials vowed to support Mikalonis and his family however it may be needed.

“He will forever be in our hearts and prayers as he continues his recovery,” Councilwoman Victoria Seaman said.

City acknowledges AG finding

The City Council on Wednesday acknowledged a finding by the state attorney general’s office last month that the council violated Nevada law by cutting off an activist who was speaking during the public comment period of a council meeting in November.

The attorney general’s office concluded the council ran afoul of open meeting law when it cut off the microphone of Dan Rolle, a progressive activist who was criticizing Anthony.

By placing the office’s finding on its agenda, which it was required by law to do, the council was not admitting wrongdoing, according to a city staff report.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

A previous version of this story mischaracterized the penalties under the new ordinance.

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