County will examine changing dog rules

A Douglas County ordinance does not allow more than three adult dogs per household, but that could change soon.

Douglas County Communications Director Dick Mirgon said a new ordinance proposal will be presented to county commissioners in early April, allowing up to six dogs per residence. A maximum of three can be rescue dogs.

The draft includes minimum acreage requirements. The property must be fenced and some sort of equipment will be required to handle animal waste. A licensing fee will be required, Mirgon said.

"Most of the requirements are related to health and community issues," he said.

The issue arose after a neighbor complained about herd dog rescuer Kathy Givens, charging she had too many dogs on her Johnson Lane property. Givens said she will be attending the April county commissioners meeting to comment on the new ordinance proposal.

"To put a number on acreage doesn't make sense," she said.

"A neighbor came to me in tears, saying she was cited for too many dogs. She has Chihuahuas. Six of hers don't make one of mine," Givens said, "A neighbor on a half acre down the street has four horses. Tell me that makes sense."

Despite the $47 fine Givens incurred, she continues her work rescuing Australian shepherds and border collies through foster homes.

"That's the one good thing that has come out of all this," she said. "I'm very passionate, because I have to go into the euthanizing room twice a week, where there are puppies and sweet dogs that never had a chance."

Givens said she has rescued about 600 dogs in the 4 1/2 years she has been doing this work. Many, including a border collie she calls Race, have gone on to become stars in herding competitions.

"When I rescued him, I couldn't find a home to take him because he was very rambunctious. Then I found out his father is a top-of-the-line dog from England," she said. "So I put him on some livestock and now, I have a room full of ribbons."

She said Douglas is the only county in Nevada that doesn't have a variance for people providing this kind of service, which defrays some costs at the county-funded animal control.

"I brought the county manager a four-inch stack of bills I paid to vet, neuter and place these dogs," she said. "There has to be a way to solve this problem."

Despite claims to the contrary, Givens said the problem is acute here, for all breeds. Shelters might shift the dogs around, but dogs are ultimately killed to make room.

"That's why internal staff scrambles to call rescues," she said. "I've taken in boxes of puppies in groups of 8 or 10 left at the side of the road."

One litter of puppies was drenched in concentrated urine, because they hadn't been cleaned and were deprived of water, Givens said.

"One dog was drug behind her truck until her toenails were completely worn down," she said. "I couldn't let her go. She herds sheep and she's awesome in a competition.

"We have so many trainers working with us, to help work the kinks out so these dogs are adoptable," she said. "Then we work hard to find the dog a good home. It gets a little crazy."

Animal Control Supervisor John Respess could not be reached for comment before press time.

n Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.


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