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AKC has learned that the Washoe County Commission (Nevada) is considering a proposal that would require anyone who wishes to own more than three dogs to apply for a variance permit and have their dogs sterilized. 

The proposal will be formally introduced at the county commission meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, July 18. Each commission meeting does allow a period for public comment in the meeting.  The commission is expected to also schedule a formal public hearing and vote on Tuesday, August 8. 

Washoe County residents are strongly urged to contact the commission immediately and to respectfully express your opposition to mandatory spay/neuter and other concerns with this proposal. (Scroll down for contact information).


Current county law requires a kennel permit for those who own more than three dogs or seven cats over four months of age.  Those applying for this permit must submit detailed drawing and descriptions of the kennel, and comply with certain size and engineering standards if it is a new kennel. 

Under the proposed changes, “kennel permits” will no longer be available. Instead, those who wish to own more than three dogs or seven cats (over 4 months of age) must apply for a variance permit and all animals must be sterilized.  In addition, kennel size requirements, which previously only applied to new kennels, now appear to apply to all kennels, and the exception for dogs being kept inside a residence is eliminated.  It is possible that this could be interpreted to require a pet owner’s home to comply with the size requirements, flooring, and other specifications previously only applied to outdoor kennels. 

Animal owners may be exempt from this variance permit only if they apply for a commercial animal welfare permit and business license.  Both commercial and variance permits will require inspections by the county.   

AKC has numerous concerns with this proposal, which would negatively impact responsible dog owners and sportsmen in Washoe County, and could potentially force pet owners to to give up their dogs if they are denied a permit or cannot afford to make significant engineering changes to come into compliance with the kennel regulations, even if they are keeping their dogs in a safe and humane manner. 

The proposal is also likely to harm the health and wellbeing of dogs in the county. Numerous recent scientific studies have demonstrated that sterilizing dogs at a young age has significant long-term health implications, including: Lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, hip dysplasia, mast cell tumors, cranial cruciate tears, immune dysfunction, incontinence, improper bone development and reduced lifespan.  

Additionally, this proposal forces responsible owners of intact dogs to sterilize their animals just for the right to keep them, even though they are currently paying the county’s intact animal license permits for the right to keep intact animals. 

Visit AKC’s Legislative Action Center for more information and talking points on animal limit laws and breeder regulations.

What You Can Do:

Contact the Washoe County Commission and respectfully express your concerns and attend the public meetings. If you are a resident or participate in shows in the county, please the indicate that when contacting them:

Commission phone number: (775) 328-2005

Commissioner Bob Lucey, Chair:

Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler, Vice Chair:

Commissioner Kitty Jung: (775) 219-5472 (no e-mail publicly available)

Commissioner Vaughn Hartung:

Commissioner Jeanne Herman:

AKC Government Relations will continue to closely monitor this proposal.  For more information, contact