weather icon Partly Cloudy

Nevada bans dog breed discrimination

When visitors stop by the Clemens home, Duke and Louis barrel toward them, jump in their laps and sniff them.

“Don’t worry, they’re friendly,” their owner, Jesica Clemens, says.

Duke, a pit bull mix who turns 6 next month, and Louis, a 4-year-old pit bull, were rescued years ago by Clemens, founder of a nonprofit called Incred-A-Bull that aims to restore the positive image of “pit bull-type” dogs.

Incred-A-Bull is one of many animal rights advocacy groups celebrating the passage of Assembly Bill 110, which prevents local governments from enacting laws against a dog, or any other family pet, based solely on its breed.

“We’ve faced a lot of discrimination based on the way these guys look just from people in the neighborhood, people in town,” Clemens, 38, said. “They’re all individuals just like we are all individuals, and they deserve to be treated and acknowledged as such.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the bill May 24, making Nevada the 14th state to prohibit breed-specific legislation. The bill goes into effect Oct. 1.

The new legislation allows local governments to continue passing laws that target dangerous or vicious dogs so long as the laws are free from breed bias.

This upholds current Nevada law, which says a dog may be euthanized if law enforcement deems the dog “dangerous” or “vicious,” such as in the case of Onion, a 120-pound mastiff-Rhodesian mix who remains in Henderson Animal Control custody after fatally attacking his owner’s 1-year-old grandson in April 2012.

The Nevada Supreme Court has scheduled a July 3 hearing to determine Onion’s fate after a New York-based rescue group, The Lexus Project, intervened in the hopes of sending Onion to an animal sanctuary in Colorado.

The bill’s elimination of breed-specific laws has received large support from the Henderson Police Department and Animal Control division, a spokesperson said. It also received widespread support in the Nevada Legislature with a 40-0 vote in the Assembly and a 20-1 vote in the Senate. The sole opposing vote was made by Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks. She could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, the bill’s primary sponsor, said he was pleased to see it pass, and that local governments should evaluate problem dogs on a case-by-case basis rather than place a blanket ban on any breed.

“All the evidence I’ve seen where local governments enacted laws that are breed specific, it doesn’t work out positively for the owners and the dogs,” Ohrenschall said. “A lot of dogs are destroyed who are not dangerous and who aren’t vicious.”

Ohrenschall pointed to Denver’s ban in 2006 on the ownership, transportation or sale of pit bulls as an example of unnecessary legislation that forced pit bull owners citywide to give up their dogs.

Clemens, who is from Denver, called its ban on pit bulls a shame.

“My dad still lives there, and he constantly tells me, ‘Come home! Bring the dogs,’” Clemens said. “Well, I’m not going to bring my ‘kids’ to a place where someone can knock on the door and seize them and kill them just because of the way they look. That’s like Nazi Germany in my mind.”

She added, “It’s a really slippery slope when you allow that kind of discrimination into your public policy.”

Contact Melissah Yang at myang@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491. Follow her @MelissahYang.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Trump administration OKs new water rule - VIDEO
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a new rule Thursday replacing a 2015 definition of “navigable waters” created in the Obama administration that farmers, developers and others found overly restrictive. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yvanna Cancela Speaks on Supporting Biden - Video
The RJ Politics podcast crew sits down with Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela to discuss why she is supporting former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.
RJ Politics Podcast with Deval Patrick - VIDEO
2020 Presidential Candidate Deval Patrick joins hosts Rory Appleton and Steve Sebelius on the RJ Politics Podcast.
Tom Steyer on Donald Trump and the economy - Video
Tom Steyer joins the RJ Politics podcast to talk about his campaign presence in Nevada and how he plans to take Trump on when talking about the economy. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Council Votes On Homeless Ordinance - Video
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday will discuss expanding on a controversial camping and sleeping ban aimed at deterring the homeless from bivouacking on city streets to include hours when public sidewalks are being cleaned.
Biden meets with Vegas Latino community - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden met with members of the Latino community at Rancho High School. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson, other Nevada cities consent to refugee resettlement - VIDEO
Henderson will continue to welcome refugees for resettlement, according to a December letter from Mayor Debra March. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg Speaks At Black Empowerment Event - Video
Pete Buttigieg speaks at a black empowerment event to talk about his Douglass plan.
Joe Biden at the national hospitality workers union.
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to members of the national hospitality workers union during UNITE HERE's town hall on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 at Culinary Union Hall in Las Vegas. @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren at Culinary Union
Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Culinary Union town hall in Las Vegas on Dec. 9, 2019.
Secretary of Education visits Henderson school
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited students at Pinecrest Academy in Henderson to talk about college planning on Dec. 4, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump dropped from Terry Fator’s show on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fator has edited out one prominent figure: President Donald Trump, a focal point of Fator’s regular stage show and also Christmas show over the past 3½ years. The Trump puppet, with his pop-up hairpiece, has been sidelined from both shows until further notice. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Accused murder mastermind Frank LaPena is granted a pardon - VIDEO
A onetime Las Vegas casino bell captain who spent 25 years in prison as the accused mastermind in a notorious 1974 contract murder won his last legal battle for freedom Wednesday when the state Pardons Board granted him a conditional pardon restoring all his civil rights. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Middle: Nonpartisan voters and the 2020 election
How will the growing segment of nonpartisan or independent voters — those who have not registered with either political party, or who have left partisan politics behind — vote in 2020?