ACTION ALERT: Washoe County, NV

UPDATE: At the July 18 hearing the stakeholders were heard and animal services were directed to revise the language and present amended language. This was good news for exotic keepers! USARK will continue working with local stakeholders and officials.

Remember to be CIVIL and PROFESSIONAL at all times!

WHAT: Chapter 55 of the Washoe County Code regarding animals will be revised. Outside groups and extremists are pushing for bans and over-regulation.

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

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.]
  3. Proposed tiers can be found at

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

  1. list of animal enrichment devices;
  2. site inspection;
  3. liability insurance of $25,000 per tier 2 animal and $250,000 per tier 3 animal;
  4. required spay and neuter (very unsafe and without scientific reasoning) for most tier 2 and tier 3 species;
  5. required "microchip, tattoo, or other form of permanent identification";
  6. Etc. 


July 18 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. No to Chapter 55 proposal
  2. Chapter 55 proposal harmful to animals
  3. Chapter 55 proposal is unjust and unsound
  4. Chapter 55 revisions must include local stakeholders
  5. Work with local experts to fix Chapter 55
  6. Use local experts for animal code revisions

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

Dear Washoe County Commissioners,

I oppose the Chapter 55 proposal regarding exotic animals. To be blunt, it’s overreaching drivel with components which are harmful to animals. It’s unsound without scientific support or just reasoning. 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 as it’s obvious experts were not consulted on this matter.

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

  1. Gimmicky and onerous liability insurance should NOT be required;
  2. 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;
  3. sterilization requirement is unjust and places animals under harm from risky procedures;
  4. tier system is extremely flawed and is distorting what could be a common sense approach;
  5. anesthetization sometimes required for permanent identification places animals in harm, and even microchips are not fail-safe.

The proposal is so flawed, it includes the term "cold-blooded." Cold-blooded is a term used to educate kindergartners and is not used by professionals or scientists. This illustrates an utter lack of expertise and experience by whomever wrote this proposal. It makes Washoe County appear uneducated and dull-witted.

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.

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. 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.




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.

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 

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