ACTION ALERT: Washoe County, NV

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Remember to be CIVIL and PROFESSIONAL at all times!

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UPDATE: After ignoring everyone who came to speak out against the proposal (including an exotic animal specialty veterinarian), the Board approved the language. The only change was the removal of the spay/neuter requirement for Tier 3 animals.

There will be a second hearing with a final vote on January 23. If you live in Washoe, please show up and voice your opposition! It is not too late to stop this and get a proper ordinance in place.

WHAT: Washoe County Regional Animal Services ("WCRAS") is proposing changes to Chapter 55 of the Washoe County Code regarding "exotic animals." To be blunt, it’s overreaching drivel. It’s unsound and without scientific support or just reasoning. It remains obvious that no experts were consulted on this matter.

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.

Draft ordinance viewable at www.usark.org/library/washoe-county-dec-2017/. NOTE: The only amendment thus far was the removal of the spay/neuter requirement.

Outline of proposal:

A. Create a tier system to identify exotic animals and permit requirements;

  1. Tier 1: “those animals that are customarily sold in a retail pet store.” [Extremely vague and up to broad interpretation.]
  2. Tier 2 and 3 animals to go through an overreaching permit process and require liability insurance. [USARK does not promote the requirement for this gimmicky insurance, especially for animals which are not involved with public interactions and are responsibly housed.]
  3. Proposed tiers and affected species can be found on pages 2-3 at www.usark.org/library/washoe-county-dec-2017/.

B. Overreaching permit application process, including but not limited to,

  1. snake enclosure sizes greater than those required by the AZA;
  2. site inspection with officers allowed anywhere on property, not just cage inspection;
  3. liability insurance of $25,000 per tier 2 animal and $250,000 per tier 3 animal;
  4. provide a written "enrichment plan";
  5. Etc. 

PUBLIC MEETING

January 23rd, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. PDT
COMMISSION CHAMBERS
1001 E. 9th Street
Reno, Nevada 89512

Take Action Now by doing one, or preferably all, of the below.

Remember to be civil and professional at all times!

  1. Email opposition letters (see below for samples and email addresses);
  2. Call the Commissioners and County Manager:

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Simple voice message: "I oppose Chapter 55 changes regarding exotic animals and hope you will consider the amendments presented by stakeholders and experts at the next meeting. Thank you and have a good day."

Sample Letter

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

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

  1. NO to exotic animal Chapter 55 proposal
  2. Chapter 55 proposal is unjust and unsound

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

Short Letter

Washoe County Commissioners, Manager, and Personnel,

I oppose the Chapter 55 proposal regarding exotic animals. Not a single person appeared to speak in favor of this proposal at the last meeting and yet you voted to move forward with it. You clearly are not acting with the voices of your constituents in mind, but are acting out of a bias against the responsible ownership of these animals.

Problems with the proposal include, but are not limited to, the following;

  1. Gimmicky and onerous liability insurance should NOT be required for animals kept on private property;
  2. any permits should be genuinely obtainable to responsible keepers, not just a carrot on a string in a draconian process which may lead to denial without rational justification;
  3. tier system is extremely flawed and is distorting what could be a common sense approach;
  4. proposed permit process is unjust and oppressive;
  5. caging requirements for snakes which are greater than those required by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Washoe County animal owners simply want a common-sense regulation. They want to work with officials but have been ignored at every turn. Do not create unintended consequences by attempting to solve problems that do not exist. Thank you for your time and consideration on this complex matter. Have a good day.

Sincerely,

YOUR  NAME

 

Long Letter

Washoe County Commissioners, Manager, and Personnel,

I oppose the Chapter 55 proposal regarding exotic animals. You clearly are not acting with the voices of your constituents in mind, but are acting out of a bias against the responsible ownership of these animals. This language is nearly identical to the last draft. The Board stated it was not acceptable last year, so why is it acceptable now?

It remains obvious that WCRAS has not consulted anyone new on this matter and not a single subject matter expert. The proposal still contains inaccurate terminology. WCRAS obviously does not possess the knowledge to write an appropriate ordinance without the recruitment of local stakeholders who actually work with these animals. Local, Washoe County stakeholders have been offering to help in this process for the past five years and their offers continue to be ignored. WCRAS clearly does need their expertise. WCRAS is continuing to demonstrate its incompetence and ignorance in this matter, and the Board should take further action so as to not reflect these ineptitudes.

Problems with the proposal include, but are not limited to, the following;

  1. Gimmicky and onerous liability insurance should NOT be required for animals kept on private property;
  2. any permits should be genuinely obtainable to responsible keepers, not just a carrot on a string in a draconian process which may lead to denial without rational justification;
  3. tier system is extremely flawed and is distorting what could be a common sense approach;
  4. proposed permit process is unjust and oppressive;
  5. caging requirements for snakes which are greater than those required by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Collaboration with local experts is how good government should work. Washoe County animal owners simply want a common sense regulation and do not want their beloved animals to suffer. They want to work with officials but have been ignored at every turn. Do not create unintended consequences by attempting to solve problems that do not exist. Thank you for your time and consideration on this complex matter. Have a good day.

Sincerely,

YOUR  NAME

 

Brief History

At the June 28, 2016 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.

At the July 18, 2017 hearing the stakeholders were heard and animal services were directed to revise the language and present amended language. However, WCRAS has not followed the direction of the Board.

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.

Full Contact Information

County Commissioners and Staff:
District 1 
Marsha Berkbigler: 775.328.2005
mberkbigler@washoecounty.us 

District 2 
Bob Lucey: 775.328.2005 
blucey@washoecounty.us 

District 3 
Kitty Jung: 775.219.5472 
Kjung@washoecounty.us

District 4 
Vaughn Hartung: 775.328.2005 
vhartung@washoecounty.us 

District 5 
Jeanne Herman: 775-501-0002 
jherman@washoecounty.us

Additional County contacts:

Sarah Tone (775)-328-2721
Constituent Services 
Washoe County, Office of the County Manager 
stone@washoecounty.us

Article written by USARK