Why won't Solera HOA put safety first in case of coyote killing family pet?
By Darcy Spears. CREATED Jan 5, 2015
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A valley woman found a simple solution to keep her pets safe after a coyote attack.
But her homeowners association appears to be taking the coyote's side.
Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears asks why safety isn't coming first in this HOA Hall of Shame report.
Marie Hodge finds comfort in her furry friends, and Arne was a longtime favorite, "He was the most beautiful kitten I'd ever seen and the bonding was unreal that we had together."
But Arne's life was cut short this summer when a coyote jumped Marie's wall and attacked Arne in his own backyard.
"After Arne died, I just wanted a way to protect my cats."
She found coyote rollers. Video from the manufacturer shows how they keep animals from getting a grip on the top of a wall.
The rollers would be installed on top of Marie's side wall so they really would only be visible to her and the neighbor on the other side.
Neighbors on both sides of Marie's home approved the rollers, but the HOA did not.
They sent her a letter stating: "Coyote rollers are not consistent within the Solera at Stallion Mountain Design Guidelines."
After Contact 13 first told Arne's story in October, Marie appealed the HOA's decision.
"They said they would go over it and it was denied."
She got another letter saying walls and fences can't be more than six feet tall.
According to Doug Nielsen of the Nevada Division of Wildlife, that height "is merely a hurdle for an animal like a coyote or a bobcat."
Nielsen says the agency has tried to urge HOA's to be more flexible.
"We do have to ask the question, at what point in time do aesthetics trump someone's sense of personal safety or comfort in their neighborhood?"
He says golf course communities like Solera attract coyotes.
"They don't distinguish between a rabbit and a poodle. It's something on the move and it looks edible."
NDOW recommends rollers or wrought iron fencing to keep coyotes out, but they often hit a brick wall with HOA boards.
"We have to be willing to change some of the things we do if we want to minimize the potential to have a coyote enter somebody's backyard."
Marie says the coyote problem at Solera is getting worse. Pictures she took and emails from neighbors discuss how brazen the animals have become.
One woman walking her dogs encountered a coyote on the sidewalk, "And she was like yelling at it. Throwing rocks at it and it wouldn't leave," explained Marie.
Another neighbor spotted one running across her backyard wall, "So she went, whoo! And he jumped off the wall and into somebody else's yard."
A third resident was standing in her garage and, "A coyote walked by carrying a little dog in its mouth."
That's no surprise to State Senator Mark Manendo, who happens to be one of Marie's neighbors. He likes the coyote rollers and would welcome them at Solera.
"Help deter coyotes from jumping over the wall, getting your pet, maybe even your child, your young child," Sen. Manendo said.
He adds that HOAs need to adapt to change.
"Your home is your castle and safety should be the utmost important thing. I think there should be some reasonableness when you're talking about what you can and cannot do to your home."
Sen. Manendo recalled a big fight years ago when HOAs wouldn't allow homeowners to install rolling shutters, which help keep power bills down and help prevent break-ins.
That fight went all the way to Carson City where lawmakers sided with homeowners, changing the law to protect their rights.
Manendo says if HOAs continue to prevent residents from using common sense coyote solutions, lawmakers could step in again.
"I think you're going to see some debates in the near future about this particular issue, maybe even as soon as the next legislative session."
Marie says her neighbors are coming to the same conclusion. She's collected dozens of signatures showing support.
The Solera HOA board has refused multiple requests to speak with us on camera. But they will have to answer to the Real Estate Division Ombudsman where Marie's case is currently pending.
Sen. Manendo will also seek answers at a town hall meeting later this month.