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Greyhound breeder facing felony charges in Nye County

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Greyhound breeder facing felony charges in Nye County

By Darcy Spears. CREATED May 19, 2014

Pahrump, NV (KTNV) -- Another heartbreaking case of alleged animal cruelty in Pahrump. This time, involving Italian Greyhounds.

A former breeder has been charged with torturing, injuring and abandoning the dogs he claimed to love.

See Paolo run, sniff and smile. The life he's living now is a far cry from the life he left in Pahrump.

"When we took him in as a favor, he was terrified," said Tracy Yoshimine, who brought Paolo into her family about a year ago. "If you tried to touch him he would just fall over and just get real rigid like he was so terrified he didn't even know how to be touched or how to be petted."

Paolo is one of the lucky ones. Though his leg was badly broken and had to be amputated, he was rescued and got a second chance at life.

On Jan. 29, 2013, Nye County Animal Control got a complaint that dogs had been abandoned in chain link dog runs without water or food at a property in Pahrump.

The dogs belonged to George Papania, a breeder of Italian Greyhounds.

When officers went to follow up on the complaint, "What they ended up with was four animals. One dead from unknown reasons. And three apparently very undernourished. One of the three severely injured with a badly broken leg," said Nye County Emergency Management Director Vance Payne.

Animal Control said Paolo is a dog whose name was Bandit when he was pictured last year on Papania's website, which is now defunct.

Animal control's pictures show the dog's leg sticking out to the side. Its incident report said when they found him, he was using the broken leg "to dig feces out of the dirt to eat because he was obviously starving."

Officers found his mother, Bella, dead in a dog house in one of the other runs.

"This was a pretty severe level of neglect," said Payne.

The report said Bella's body was in an advanced state of decomposition.

All the bowls and basins had "an inch of what appeared to be dirty rain water from a few days prior." "Power was turned off to the residence and there was no running water from outside faucets."

As for Paolo's leg, Tracy said the x-rays were sent to experts and they just said it was too old of a break, which is why it had to be amputated.

Animal control's vet called it "an old injury that had never been treated."

The animals are long gone from the property but unfortunately evidence of their presence is not. Only moments after we got there, we discovered the carcass of a long-dead dog. It appeared to be an Italian Greyhound. Turns out, it was.

We immediately called animal control who bagged the body, thinking it's another piece of evidence in a case that already has Papania facing two felonies.

The criminal complaint filed last October charges Papania with torturing, injuring and abandoning the animals.

We showed Tracy the records.

"Oh that's just horrific," she said.

The details left her wondering, "What kind of a defense you would have?"

We wondered that too. Though we reached Papania on the phone, he said his attorney didn't want him to go on camera.

But he said we could quote him.

About animal control, he said, "They want to look like heroes, but they're jerks." He claims their only witness is a former landlord who wanted him off that Pahrump property. He added that he's "totally innocent of any charges or any wrongdoing."

But this case isn't his first run-in with the law. Animal control had been out to the property once before. In 2010, they cited Papania after finding four dogs dead in their kennels behind the property.

Animal control's report shows the dead Italian Greyhounds were "lying in flooded water and mud. Apparently drowned when their kennels flooded from a rain several days prior. There were 14 surviving dogs, some living in the same kennels as the dead dogs."

According to the incident report, Mr. Papania told animal control officers he couldn't remove the dead dogs or get the surviving ones to a dry safe place because it was too muddy for him to walk back there.

Despite the citation, the DA at the time did not file charges.

"I'm kind of disappointed that we had to go for round two on this," said Payne.

Animal control said Papania, who now lives in Las Vegas, will never hold a breeder's license in Nye County again.

As for Paolo, he has shed the life that led to that broken leg. But he can't leave it all behind.

"He still has some issues," Tracy said. "He doesn't really like men very much."

But at least now, he'll always be surrounded by love. 

Papania is set for a preliminary hearing in Nye County on July 10.

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Darcy Spears

Darcy Spears

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Darcy Spears is currently the Chief Investigative Reporter for Action News.