New Animal Protection Laws in Nevada!Posted by Stephan Otto, ALDF's Director of Legislative Affairs on June 28, 2011
“Cooney’s Law”–First-Offense Felony Becomes Law
On June 10, 2011, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed “Cooney’s Bill” into law making the most heinous acts of cruelty against dogs, cats and companion animals a felony on the first offense. Under the new law, a person who “willfully and maliciously” tortures or unjustifiably maims, mutilates or kills a cat, dog or animal “kept for companionship or pleasure” will be guilty of a category D felony, and a category C felony if the act is done in order to “threaten, intimidate or terrorize another person.” The new law also allows for the confidential reporting of suspected animal abuse, and clarifies the punishment for another provision.
Before “Cooney’s Law,” Nevada was the only state in the country where someone could torture an animal to death on three separate occasions before they would face a felony animal cruelty charge – Nevada is now the 43rd state to provide for first-offense felony penalties. Only three states – Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota – still lack felony penalties for animal cruelty offenses altogether, regardless of severity or frequency.
Support for this key strengthening of Nevada’s animal protection laws galvanized following news of the horrific case of the dog Cooney. Last fall, a Reno man brutally cut Cooney with a box cutter – he then watched as she ran around the room, bleeding, her intestines falling out. Cooney died of shock and blood loss. The man later pled guilty to the most serious charge he could face under Nevada’s then-current law – a misdemeanor. He paid a small fine and was released with credit for jail time served.
ALDF’s Legislative Affairs worked with the state organization Nevada Voters for Animals on the passage of Cooney’s Law. ALDF provided legislative advice and support, submitted testimony, and sent out an action alert in support of the bill to our Nevada supporters.
“Thank you [ALDF] for your guidance and assistance. It was a great (and winning) team effort,” said Gina Greisen, president of Nevada Voters for Animals. “I want abusers in Nevada to know their behavior will not be tolerated, and if they choose to harm a helpless animal, the punishment will fit the crime,” she added. “Cooney, you will never be forgotten. A little rescue dog who helped bring about so much change to protect people and animals. RIP sweet Cooney.”
Increased Regulation of Dog & Cat Breeders
Governor Sandoval signed another important animal protection measure into law – this one aimed at puppy & cat mills. The new law authorizes increased regulation and oversight of dog and cat breeders in Nevada through stronger standards of care, required annual permits, microchips, inspections, and disallowing female dogs from being bred more than once per year or before the age of eighteen months.
Both laws take effect on October 1, 2011.