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June 16, 2015

On June 23rd the Washoe County Board of Commissioners will be considering changes to their animal control ordinance that will define commercial animal establishments and commercial breeders. Two separate ordinances are proposed. The ordinances will impose significant fees and burdens on small, local, responsible breeders. State law already defines and regulates certain commercial breeders while excluding those who breed as a hobby. These ordinances go far beyond state law and create significant burdens for responsible breeders.

Washoe County Board of Commissioners
Date: Tuesday, June 23rd
Time: 10:00 AM 
Location: Commission Chambers, 1001 E. 9th Street, Reno, NV

Summary of Proposed Changes under Consideration:

  • One proposed ordinance will define a commercial animal establishment as “any pet store, circus, performing animal exhibition, animal exhibit, zoological park, kennel, training or boarding facility used for the business of buying, selling, housing, boarding or exhibiting animals.”
  • Current law requires a kennel permit for anyone maintaining more than three adult dogs. Kennel permit holders are required to have their premises inspected by animal control. The non-refundable application fee for kennels is $50.
  • The other proposed ordinance will define a commercial breeder as “a dealer, operator or other person who is responsible for operation of a commercial animal establishment which engages in the breeding of three or more litters of cats or dogs in a calendar year, to sell, trade or give away to others.”  Given the definition of a kennel this will certainly impact small hobby breeders.
  • Commercial breeders will be required to obtain business licenses for the jurisdiction in which they are located, regardless of how many animals are sold. For example, in the City of Reno this would include a $25 application fee, at least a $60 gross receipts fee (for up to $20,000 in gross receipts), and a $30 home based business fee. Applicants will need to have already obtained a $200 state business registration (license).
  • The license fees for the commercial animal establishment permit and the commercial breeder permit are not listed in the proposed ordinances. While it may be common practice to include those in a single fee schedule, it is unreasonable to debate these changes without an accompanying fee structure.
  • Commercial breeders will be required to allow any animal control officer to inspect their premises at any reasonable hour. It is unclear what will happen to permit holders who are not home during these times. Given the low thresholds in this ordinance it is entirely likely that many of those required to obtain a permit will have other employment. The scope of this ordinance will include far more private residences than brick-and mortar business facilities open to the public. 
  • Commercial breeders will only be allowed to breed females after they are 18 months old and they may only be bred once a year. “Breeding” is defined as producing the offspring of dogs or cats, called a litter. Presumably a breeding that did not result in a live litter would not be included in this provision but it is not entirely clear.
  • The AKC has concerns with defining commercial activity based on the number of litters produced. With small breeds, it is possible that only 1 or 2 puppies will constitute a litter. Commercial activity should be based on the number of dogs sold. The costs and burdens this ordinance would place on a small hobby breeder who has only 3 litters per year are unreasonable.
  • Additionally, the current Washoe County zoning code designates a “Commercial Kennel” as follows, “Commercial kennels refers to kennel services for dogs, cats and similar animals. Typical uses include commercial animal breeding with four (4) or more animals (dogs), boarding kennels, pet motels, or dog training centers. Commercial kennels require a parcel size minimum of two-and-one-half (2.5) acres regardless of the regulatory zone within which it is located.” Further, a Board of Adjustment Special Use Permit is required in the zoning designations where commercial kennels are permitted.

AKC Resources

Issue Analysis: The Value of Responsible Dog Breeders
AKC Position Statement: Breeding Restrictions
AKC Position Statement: Responsible Breeding Practices
Responsible Breeding Practices Issue Brief

What You Can Do

Attend the Washoe County Board of Commissioners Meeting and discuss your concerns with the proposal. Public comment is limited to three minutes per person.
Contact your representative on the Washoe County Board of Commissioners. You can input your address here to find out who represents your district.

Washoe County Board of Commissioners
Berkbigler, Marsha
Commissioner, District 1
mberkbigler@washoecounty.us 
775.328.2005

Lucy, Bob
Commissioner, District 2
blucey@washoecounty.us 
775.328.2005

Jung, Kitty
Commissioner, District 3
kjung@washoecounty.us 
775.219.5472, cell

Hartung, Vaughn
Commissioner, District 4
vhartung@washoecounty.us 
775.328.2005

Hermann, Jeanne
jhermann@washoe.us 
Commissioner, District 5 
775.328.2005

On June 23rd the Washoe County Board of Commissioners will be considering changes to their animal control ordinance that will define commercial animal establishments and commercial breeders. Two separate ordinances are proposed.

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