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December 20, 2014

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Dog bite brings urgency to study of animal ban on Las Vegas Strip

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Steve Marcus

A panhandler sits with a dog on a pedestrian overpass near Planet Hollywood Friday, Dec. 30, 2011. A proposed county ordinance would ban the use of dogs and other animals by people soliciting money on the Strip.

Dogs on the Strip

A panhandler, right, packs up to leave after soliciting money with a dog on a pedestrian overpass near Planet Hollywood Friday, Dec. 30, 2011. A proposed county ordinance would ban the use of dogs and other animals by people soliciting money on the Strip. Launch slideshow »

The committee examining problems on the state’s most famous thoroughfare will expedite its evaluation of a ban on pets on the Strip, after a California man was bit by a dog on a Strip pedestrian overpass last week.

Since the Jan. 11 incident, Clark County Animal Control has been unable to locate the dog or its owner, a woman who was on the overpass begging for money.

Temple Stratton, 41, said he is “95 percent certain” the woman and dog appeared in a photo in the Jan. 3 edition of the Sun in a story about the proposal to ban animals on a portion of Las Vegas Boulevard.

The dog bite has added urgency to the work of the committee established months ago to study issues in the area, from its general cleanliness to unlicensed panhandlers. That committee will consider today a proposal by Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani to ban animals from the area that are not vaccinated and neutered or spayed. The proposal exempts animals accompanying guests at animal-friendly resorts or residents of the Strip.

“We’d like to deal with this right away and not tie it up in all the larger issues that we have,” Terry Murphy, a political/marketing consultant and a member of the committee, said.

Commissioners on Tuesday voted to have the committee examine Giunchigliani’s proposal to ban animals on the Strip.

County Manager Don Burnette, who is also on the committee, said if the committee works out the issues it could quickly be brought back to the commission.

Click to enlarge photo

A panhandler packs up to leave after soliciting money with a dog on a pedestrian overpass near Planet Hollywood Friday, Dec. 30, 2011. A proposed county ordinance would ban the use of dogs and other animals by people soliciting money on the Strip.

Since receiving the dog-bite report, Animal Control has been patrolling the overpass between Planet Hollywood and the Cosmopolitan and will do so for 10 days — the time it takes for an animal to show signs of rabies. So far, Animal Control has not found the woman nor the dog, said Jennifer Lances, assistant director of administrative services.

The chances of the animal having rabies are small, however. The Southern Nevada Health District’s disease reports online show no rabies cases for at least five years.

Stratton said a California doctor has advised him not to get rabies shots, which are very expensive, because it is so rare in Las Vegas.

“I’m not thrilled about the idea of rabies shots, but I’d rather not get (the disease), either. I have a 7-year-old,” he said.

Stratton said it was early evening when he walked out of the Cosmopolitan and headed east on the pedestrian overpass toward Planet Hollywood. He said he was wearing light, athletic-type pants. As he walked toward the woman and dog, the dog suddenly bit his leg.

“She was up and running before I knew it,” Stratton said. “I yelled, ‘Your dog bit me!’ And she yelled back, ‘My dog has insurance!’ ”

He said she ran with her dog down the overpass stairs to the street and continued east on Harmon Avenue. Stratton talked to security personnel from Planet Hollywood and the Cosmopolitan, which took a report but told him the overpass was public property, not casino property.

About 10 minutes later, Planet Hollywood security personnel told him another report had come in about another bite by a dog matching the same description. Lances said Animal Control did not receive a second report.

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  1. They need a "committee" to study this????? Just ban dogs period. No need to waste tax payer money on this one. And really.... how many animals are on the Strip on a daily basis?? Locals sure aren't going to walk their dogs there. Sheesh!

  2. Ban dogs on The Strip except for assistance dogs. I'm not too worried about whether the beggars will like it or not.

  3. "was bit"?? Who edits these stories?

  4. I agree with the proposed ban. I have seen these folks sitting on the pedestrian bridges with their pets. How can they afford to have a pet in the first place if they're actually homeless?

    I feel bad for the pets, really.

  5. Some of these people are professional panhandlers and they use the animal to gain more compassionate giving from the intended target.
    I was approached by a so called homeless man who flashed a business card from a hand full that he had one was a veteran and the there's the other one from some deaf peoples organization and so forth.

    I also recall reading an article from the valley about professional panhandlers making as much as $80,000 a year. Think about it $20.00 an hour for twelve hours. Tax free

  6. Sure. What the hell. Ban dogs on the Strip because they don't like tourists. I guess that's the thing to do.

    If a pigeon craps on a tourist's head, does the insiduous act of feeding a pigeon suddenly become a felony?

    If there is an instance of a homeless panhandler biting a tourist's ankle, do they get banned too?

    This could go on and on. I mean, c'mon, these County Commissioners first want to ban Superman and Batman from the Strip. All because they hate superheroes.

    I understand a dog biting a tourist is not a good thing to happen at all, but to keep making law after law after law that just forces Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to scrutinize more imagined than realistic problems, taking their focus off of predatory career criminal instances of violence and property crime preventions along the Strip, it don't help them do their job to protect our lifeblood (tourists) at all.

    You ask me, these County Commissioners need to get a job. Count paper clips or something.

    Because they seem to keep looking around for something to do and end up micromanaging the crap out of every little thing when it pertains to Las Vegas Boulevard.

    And their focus seems to pick easy targets they think they can rectify by acting tough; all in order to get votes for re-election and collect copious amounts of campaign funds.

    This is dumb. Tourists will be fine. Believe me. They can take care of themselves regarding dogs. Always have and always will.

    It's not like the homeless have organized into savage tourist hating battalions with trained homeless attack dogs intent on focusing their fangs on tourist ankles because war has declared...all some incredibly nefarious plot hatched by some evil homeless mind. Gimme a break. Sounds like this is an isolated instance.

    Animal control in Las Vegas can take care of this. Things are already in place to rectify instances like this from happening. Let them do their job. And don't shove it off on Metro PD. They got enough to do.

    What are we paying these County Commissioners to do? And why are we paying them to focus on stupid stuff?

  7. Given the zealous way that the ACLU has worked to protect freedom of access to the Strip, I can't see where this proposed ban has a chance of standing up under legal scrutiny. The biggest issue I see is that a dog is not, inherently, a threat to public safety. Maybe proof (through tags) of immunization and a muzzle would be the only thing that could be a limit, IMO.

    It seems like a lot more proposed laws are really just grandstanding by politicians who know they don't have a snowballs chance of holding up. Seems like it would be cheaper and easier for all proposed laws to be sent to the State Attorney General's office for review. Potentially saving millions of dollars in attorney fees that are spent defending laws that are probably unconstitutional from the start.

  8. <<This is dumb. Tourists will be fine. Believe me. They can take care of themselves regarding dogs. Always have and always wil>>

    Until they step in dog doodoo that some "homeless" person or some person who has a home and no baggies forgot to pick up.

    And it's not just the tourists. It's everyone. I sure don't want to see someone walking their pitbull or Doberman or Rottweiler on the Strip and it gets spooked by something and bites the next few people it sees. Yes, they are on leashes but I've seen those large breed dogs almost pull the arms out of their owners trying to get away to "chase" something.

    Other than "service animals", ban all dogs.

  9. BTW - I am a HUGE HUGE animal lover, domestic and feral, just in case someone thinks I hate dogs. I don't.

  10. "How can they afford to have a pet in the first place if they're actually homeless?"

    JenniferAD -- don't know what warm and fuzzy planet you live on, but a young girl like this one living on the streets needs protection. Pits are great dogs for that and companionship.

    "Some of these people are professional panhandlers and they use the animal to gain more compassionate giving from the intended target."

    casinokid -- and some of them are just your fellow human beings doing the best they can to get something to eat that day. Or would you rather someone goes hungry because you refused to pony up a buck? Personally I do the latter, unless the beggar is smoking. That tells me he isn't hungry enough.

    "think they should ban people from keeping pitbulls and similar fighting dogs..."

    markp -- why exactly should anything change from the centuries-old common law? Reasonable people commonly know one is responsible for one's own animals. So long as the animal stays under control there's no cause whatsoever for the authorities to get involved. About this story, we have only Stratton's word for it. Who knows what he really did or didn't do to put the dog in protective mode. Then she did the right thing -- she got out of there with the offending animal.

    Then there's all those pampered Paris Hilton types holding their little lap dogs everywhere they go. It'll be fun watching the County try to enforce that one.

    "Practise what I call a decent mammalian philosophy" -- Hervey Allen 1933

  11. Killer

    I do give but I also don't give blindly either yes I do actually look for signs of smoking and went as far as asked for a cigarette and when they reach to get one for me I tell them thanks but no thanks.

    When I said professional I mean they live in houses that cost $70,000. or better.

  12. "I do give but I also don't give blindly either..."

    casinokid -- scammers and other predators have always been among us. Giving us a personal choice, of course.

    I may have more empathy for the homeless than some, due to a loved one who chose to live on the streets for about three years. And I definitely know how easy to lose everything fast. What the comfortably oblivious here seem to not be aware of is just how fragile one's existence is -- the average person being just one missed paycheck, one blown engine, one visit to the emergency room, one traffic ticket away from losing everything. The biggest predators among us carry badges and load up the courts to rubber stamp the fraud we owe them.

    Oh, ranting again...

    "To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson (from "Metamorphosis"?)

  13. I really like my dog, but I'd NEVER bring him to Las Vegas. A crowded tourist area is not a place to bring a pet. Service animals are perfectly acceptable, but leave the pets at home. And the relative who I pay to take care of the dog when we go to Las Vegas needs the money just as much as those panhendlers, but he EARNS it! He gets to earn a little extra money (enough to make it well worth his effort), and I get the security of knowing he is watching the dog and the house while we're gone.
    If people quit handing money to the panhandlers, they will eventually go away and head for greener pastures. Panhandling is not the way to get money from me.