October 1, 2009
Nevada Enacts Strong New Laws to Protect Animals
The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection group with more than 90,000 supporters in Nevada, applauds Nevada legislators and animal advocates for a raft of animal protection laws that go into effect Thursday. The new laws will aid enforcement efforts against illegal dogfighting, protect dogs from being tied continuously and help prevent smuggling of underage puppies.
"We commend lawmakers in Nevada for passing this raft of legislation to protect animals from cruelty and abuse," said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of The HSUS. "The anti-cruelty laws of a state are a reflection of our basic values and attitudes toward animals, and this collection of bills is a measurable step forward for the state of Nevada."
Until A.B. 199 took effect, Nevada was the only state in the nation that did not prohibit possessing, keeping or training a dog for the purpose of dogfighting. The HSUS recently ranked Nevada's animal fighting law as the worst in the country.
Recognizing that animal fighting is a serious and violent crime, all 50 states have made dogfighting a felony. However, this loophole in Nevada's law attracted dogfighters to the state and made it difficult for law enforcement officials to crack down on this cruel activity. A.B. 199, sponsored by Assemblymember Heidi Gansert, R-25, closes this loophole by making it a gross misdemeanor to own, train, promote or purchase an animal with the intent to use it in a fight with another animal.
Animal fighting contests are abhorrent spectacles in which animals are pitted in bloody duels — often to the death — for human entertainment. These cruel and illicit encounters are spawning grounds for other criminal activities, including drugs and violence, dragging down entire communities.
Another new law will improve the lives of dogs and make communities safer by prohibiting continuous dog chaining. S.B. 132, sponsored by Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Washoe County, limits the number of hours a dog can be chained or tied each day to a maximum of 14 hours.
In addition, all chains or tethers must be at least 12 feet long. Prong and choke collars, which can injure or choke dogs if they are left unsupervised, are no longer allowed while a dog is tethered. The law exempts dogs under the care of a veterinarian, dogs in animal shelters and other special situations where tethering might be necessary.
Since dogs are social animals, keeping them chained continuously can cause serious psychological damage. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, becomes unhappy, anxious and often aggressive — becoming a greater public safety threat to the community. In many cases, the necks of tethered dogs become raw and covered with sores.
A.B. 15, sponsored by Assemblymember Mark Manendo, D-18, prohibits the separation of a puppy or kitten less than 8 weeks old from his or her mother. The bill addresses the problem of puppies younger than 8 weeks old being sold to unsuspecting consumers.
The new law will help prevent the cruel smuggling of underage puppies across the border, saving the lives of countless underage puppies who do not survive the journey.
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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.