ACTION ALERT: Washoe County, NV

Remember to be CIVIL and PROFESSIONAL at all times!

UPDATE: Tabled and new deadline TBA

WHAT: Chapter 55 of the Washoe County Code regarding animals will be revised, and has been in the works for over two years. Outside groups and extremists are pushing for bans and overregulation.

Brief history: At the June 28th Board of Commissioners meeting, Washoe County Regional Animal Services ("WCRAS") gave a presentation to the Commission. The WCRAS presentation included a video featuring the Humane Society of the United States' ("HSUS") Wayne Pacelle to support their proposed requirement of liability insurance and ban on certain species. This was beyond alarming to see propaganda from a group, HSUS, which publicly promotes the abolition of ALL exotic animals, and especially ALL reptiles, as pets or under the care of humans (and much more). Such obvious bias against responsible animal ownership being displayed by government officials is really quite appalling. Dedicated local stakeholders and USARK's Phil Goss spoke at this meeting requesting a collaborative approach for the upcoming regulation changes.

While local stakeholders and USARK have encouraged common sense regulation changes and have offered frequently to collaborate, it seems WCRAS will take a path of overreach. A few tweaks and the proposal could be good and would possess language meeting everything sought by both the commissioners and local animal owners. Although two meetings have been held by WCRAS with local experts in attendance (and USARK attending one), the voices of those who actually understand the animals were dismissed.

It's sad to see a group of responsible animal owners who are more than willing to be regulated and want nothing more than to work with officials, to be completely shunned from the actual working process and provided only closed-minded meetings. As always, USARK promotes only responsible animal ownership and common sense regulation. Punish the actual criminals and leave those who properly and humanely care for these animals alone.

The proposed language was requested but WCRAS responded it will not be available until the meeting agenda posts on January 4, 2017, which is less than a week before the first reading at the January 10 Commissioner's meeting.

This regulation change seems to be on the front burner now as there will be a "Dangerous Wild Animal" bill introduced in the Nevada state legislature this year, and if the "win" for the animal rights groups in Washoe County happens, it will be hyped to push for bans at the state level.

Do not let animal rights groups make our laws! We do not have their fraudulently raised millions of dollars, but we have expertise, facts, legitimate science and the truth to support us. We only need to make enough noise to be heard. Washoe commissioners need to hear the opposition NOW, as well as at the meeting.

Remember to be professional and civil at all times!

Likely outline of proposal:

  1. Create a tier system to identify exotic animals and permit requirements;
  2. Tier 1 animal typically found in pet stores in Washoe County; [Does this mean species found in other pet shops or readily available from breeders are not Tier 1?]
  3. Tier 2 and 3 animals to go through permit process;
  4. Create a permitting process for restricted exotics through WCRAS and respective jurisdiction zoning departments;
    • It seems this may NOT be a straightforward, obtainable permit, and instead a de facto ban: (Tier 2 and 3 animals may be permitted if they meet enclosure requirements, animal enrichment, approval from HOA (if applicable), local zoning regulations, emergency plans, written approval from department of wildlife (NRS 503.597), certificate of veterinary inspection, neighbor notifications, etc.)
  5. Review of local jurisdiction zoning requirements prior to approval by animal services;
  6. Liability insurance [USARK does not promote the requirement for this gimmicky insurance for animals which are not involved with public interactions, especially when permits and site inspections are already required.]
    • $25,000 for tier 2 exotic animal
    • $250,000 for tier 3 exotic animal
  7. Grandfather clause to allow possession of exotic animal for persons with active permits and in good standing with Animal Services. [NOTE: This would not allow for those who have been denied permits (justifiably or not), or responsible owners with healthy animals to become grandfathered.]
  8. Ban on either tier 2 and 3, or tier 3 species as since there is a pseudo "grandfather clause," it would mean a ban on those animals in the future.


 January 10 at 10:00 a.m. PDT


1001 E. 9th Street

Reno, Nevada 89512

Sample Letter

Copy/paste these email addresses into your email's "To" box (even better to send individual emails):,,,,,,,,,

Copy/paste one of these subject lines, or write your own:

  1. Chapter 55 revisions must include local stakeholders
  2. Work with local experts to fix Chapter 55
  3. Use local experts for animal code revisions
  4. Don't let extremists rewrite animal code

Copy/paste this sample letter. It is important to personalize/edit at least some of the letter.

Dear Washoe County Commissioners and Officials,

As a responsible animal owner who will be affected by overreaching regulations, I ask that you work with experienced Washoe County stakeholders to revise Chapter 55. Some of the most knowledgeable animal keepers in the country reside in Washoe County and they only desire a working relationship with officials to write common sense regulation. Is this really too much to ask?

These changes should be put on hold until this can be accomplished. Apparently, there has been an effort to not truly include these local experts who understand and are more knowledgeable regarding exotic animals than Washoe officials.

Problems with the proposal;

  1. Liability insurance should NOT be required;
  2. the tier system should NOT see fruition;
  3. any permits should be genuinely obtainable to responsible keepers, not just a carrot on a string after a draconian process which may lead to denial without rational justification;
  4. grandfather clause should allow a grace period (i.e. 120-180 days) providing all current owners to come into compliance and apply for permits. Additionally, a true grandfather clause does not require hoop and after hoop to be leapt through with additional hardships to the animals and animal owners. Will WCRAS seize and "auction off or destroy" healthy animals from responsible keepers? Is this going to be a repeat of the animals unjustly seized only to then suffer needlessly following the passing of the knee-jerk state bans in Ohio? It's an agenda forced upon good people and healthy animals rather than any legitimate concern for animal welfare.
  5. if a person displays the competency and resources to keep an animal, there should not be a ban list.

Collaboration with local experts is how good government should work. They are willing to do what is best for the County, whereas extremist groups are only looking to profit, while not actually helping animals or local residents. It really is a shame when illogical and overreaching laws are put into place in very misguided efforts to punish criminals, when in fact, they do the opposite and punish the good and responsible people.

Do not create unintended consequences by attempting to solve problems that do not exist. Examples of bad, irrational and unjust government have been running rampant. It would be sad to see another example hit Washoe County, affecting so many good people who simply want a common sense regulation and don't want their beloved animals to suffer.  Thank you for your time and consideration on this complex matter. Have a good day.




Full Contact Information

County Commissioners and Staff:
District 1 
Marsha Berkbigler: 775.328.2005 

District 2 
Bob Lucey: 775.328.2005 

District 3 
Kitty Jung: 775.219.5472

District 4 
Vaughn Hartung: 775.328.2005 

District 5 
Jeanne Herman: 775-501-0002

Additional County contacts:

Sarah Tone (775)-328-2721
Constituent Services 
Washoe County, Office of the County Manager

Bobby Smith, Manager
Washoe County Regional Animal Services
2825A Longly Lane, Reno NV 89502
Office (775)-353-8945

Shyanne Schull, Director
Washoe County Regional Animal Services
2825A Longly Lane, Reno NV 89502
P O Box 11130
Reno, NV 89520-0027
Office 775-353-8900

Article written by USARK