Nevada Dog Laws

Nevada dog laws for licensing, leashes, and neutering vary by locale. But animal cruelty -- including dogfighting -- carries serious criminal penalties throughout Nevada.

After a dog bite, the dog's owner may be civilly liable to pay for the victim's expenses. But if the victim tormented or provoked the dog, then the victim should not be entitled to any damages.

In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada personal injury attorneys discuss dog laws in Nevada:

Bitten by a dog? Learn about filing a Nevada dog bite lawsuit in Nevada.

walker with several leashes
Dogs must have rabies vaccinations in Nevada.

1. Who can own dogs in Nevada?

Anyone can own dogs in Nevada unless they have been legally prohibited from doing so. Children may own dogs, though their parents or guardians would also be liable for them.

2. Must dogs be licensed in Nevada?

Laws vary depending on the locality.

In unincorporated Clark County (which includes most of Las Vegas), dog licenses are not required. However, dogs must wear a current owner ID tag or a microchip device. In addition, dogs must display a current rabies vaccination tag.

Meanwhile, dog licenses are mandatory within every municipal city limit in Clark County: 

Incorporated cities in Clark County requiring a dog license

Age when a dog must be licensed with the city

Las Vegas (which includes Downtown)

Older than 4 months

Henderson

Older than 3 months

North Las Vegas

Older than 3 months

Mesquite

Older than 6 months

Boulder City

Older than 4 months

Proof of a rabies vaccination is always required to get a license. And in some locations, the dog must be spayed or neutered.

Note that dog licenses generally must be renewed annually.1 

3. Training attack dogs and dog fights in Nevada

Nevada law prohibits dog fights and all dogfight-related activities. Penalties increase with each successive conviction.

3.1. Running a dogfight

Nevada law makes it a crime to cause, promote, assist, or in any way aid in furthering a dogfight. It is irrelevant if no gambling is involved.

 Running an animal fight

 Nevada penalties

1st-time offense

Category D felony in Nevada

  • 1 – 4 years in prison, and
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

2nd-time offense

Category C felony in Nevada

  • 1 – 5 years in prison, and
  • up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

Successive offense

Category B felony in Nevada

  • 1 – 6 years in prison

3.2. Keeping, training, selling, or buying fight dogs

It is also a crime in Nevada to either:

  • possess, train, or purchase a dog with the intent to use it to fight another animal, or
  • sell a dog knowing that it is meant to fight another animal

 Training/buying/selling fight dogs

 Nevada penalties

1st-time offense

Gross misdemeanor in Nevada

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

2nd-time offense

Category E felony in Nevada

  • 1 – 4 years in prison, and
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

The judge will probably order probation in lieu of prison.

Successive offense

Category D felony

  • 1 – 4 years in prison, and
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

3.3. Watching a dog fight

Finally, Nevada law prohibits people from watching a dogfight. It is irrelevant if they placed no bets.

Being spectators at a dogfight

 Nevada penalties

1st-time offense

Misdemeanor in Nevada

  • up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines

2nd-time offense

Gross misdemeanor

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

Successive offense

Category E felony

  • 1 – 4 years in prison, and
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

The judge will probably order probation in lieu of prison.

To learn more, go to our article on Nevada dogfighting laws (NRS 574.070).2

canine behind a cage
Enclosing an animal in too small a space for its size is a form of animal cruelty in Nevada.

4. Animal cruelty and neglect laws in Nevada

Nevada law prohibits the unjustifiable torture, maiming, or killing of dogs. Penalties depend on the defendant's state of mind.

 Purpose of torturing or killing a dog

 Nevada penalties

The defendant means to threaten, intimidate, or terrorize another person

Category C felony

  • 1 – 5 years in prison, and
  • up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)

The act is committed willfully and maliciously

Category D felony

  • 1 – 4 years in prison, and
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)3

Note that poisoning a dog is typically prosecuted as a gross misdemeanor, carrying:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines4

Nevada law also makes it a crime to restrain a dog for more than fourteen (14) hours during a twenty-four (24) hour stretch. The following dog restraints are outlawed:

  • prongs,
  • pinches,
  • choke collars, or
  • any tether, chain, tie, trolley, or pulley system that:
    1. is shorter than twelve (12) feet, or
    2. impedes the dog from moving at least twelve (12) feet, or
    3. permits the dog to reach a fence or other object that may cause the dog to become injured, entangled, or to die by strangulation after jumping the fence or object

In general, the penalties for animal abuse or neglect increase with each successive conviction within seven (7) years of the first one.

Animal cruelty

 Nevada penalties

1st-time offense within 7 years

Misdemeanor

  • 2 days to 6 months in jail,
  • 48 to 120 hours of community service,
  • $200 to $1,000 in fines, and
  • restitution

2nd-time offense within 7 years

Misdemeanor

  • 10 days to 6 months in jail,
  • 100 hours to 200 hours of community service,
  • $500 to $1,000 in fines, and
  • restitution

Successive offense within 7 years

Category C felony

  • 1 – 5 years in prison,
  • up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion), and
  • restitution5

Note that Nevada has special laws prohibiting abuse of police dogs and show dogs. Learn more in our article about Nevada animal cruelty crimes.

Also, note that dog racing is not a crime in and of itself. But it becomes illegal when it is done for gambling purposes. Learn more at our article on the Nevada crime of dog racing as a gaming activity (NRS 207.235).

5. Nevada dog leash laws

Dogs generally must be kept on leashes when out in public in Nevada. This includes inside HOA communities as well. However, leashes are optional in certain dog parks and rural locations.

Each Nevada city and county has its own specific leash laws. And some locations prohibit canines completely except for service animals. For instance, dogs are not allowed on the Las Vegas Strip between Sahara Avenue and Sunset Road from 5 a.m. to 12 noon.

Most locales make it a misdemeanor or a civil infraction to take out a dog without a leash. Always check local municipal and county laws before taking out a pet.6

Learn more about Nevada dog leash laws.

6. Owner responsibility in Nevada dog bite cases

Owners whose dogs bite and injure another person may be civilly liable to the victim. Depending on the case, the victim ("plaintiff") could sue the animal owner ("defendant") for negligence in Nevada and/or negligence per se in Nevada.

Typical money damages that dog owners may have to pay in a dog bite lawsuit include the following:

Note that dog owners should not be negligent if the bite victim tormented or otherwise provoked the dog.

6.1. Negligence

Pet owners are negligent if the following are true:

  1. The pet owner had a duty of care toward the victim, such as keeping the pet from biting him/her;
  2. The pet owner breached this duty of care by failing to keep the pet from biting the victim;
  3. The pet owner's breach of duty caused the victim's injuries; and
  4. The victim's injuries resulted in damages (such as doctor's bills and emotional distress)7

Example: Helen's friend Joy comes to visit her at her house in Las Vegas. As soon as Joy enters the house, Helen's collie pounces on Joy and bites her arm. Joy needs stitches. Here, Helen was negligent for not keeping Joy safe from the collie. Helen should have kept the dog in another room or leashed so it could not hurt Joy.

6.2. Negligence per se

Pet owners are negligent per se if the following are true:

  1. The pet owner violated a law;
  2. This law was meant to protect people like the victim;
  3. The pet owner's violation of the law resulted in the victim's injury; and
  4. The victim's injuries resulted in damages (such as doctor's bills and emotional distress)8

Negligence per se cases are common when the bite occurred because the owner failed to keep the dog on a leash while out in public. Leash laws are meant to protect people from getting bitten by dogs. By violating the leash law, the owner allowed the dog to get close enough to the victim to bite him/her.

Another scenario where a negligence per se case is appropriate is if a "vicious" dog bit the victim. It is against Nevada law to keep canines that have been classified as "vicious." So by keeping a vicious dog that then bites another person, the owner was negligent per se towards the victim.

Learn more about keeping a vicious dog in Nevada (NRS 202.500).

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Injured by an animal in Nevada? Call our Las Vegas dog bite attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation. We take no money unless we win your case, so it is risk-free to you.


Legal References

  1. Las Vegas Municipal Code 7.08.010; Henderson Municipal Code 7.04.010; North Las Vegas Municipal Code 6.08.010; Mesquite Municipal Code 10-3-1; Boulder City Municipal Code 7-3-3(D); Clark County Animal Control FAQ.
  2. NRS 574.070.
  3. NRS 574.100.
  4. NRS 574.150.
  5. NRS 574.100.
  6. Clark County Code 10.39.010.
  7. Turner v. Mandalay Sports Entm't, LLC, 124 Nev. 213, 180 P.3d 1172 (2008).
  8. Atkinson v. MGM Grand Hotel, Inc., 98 P.3d 678, 680 (Nev. 2004).

 

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