LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The blame game in the Nye County animal cruelty case is reaching new levels.
Internal documents reveal possible retaliation in the form of an internal affairs investigation that involves something animal welfare advocates call a shocking conflict of interest.
The internal emails obtained by 13 investigators paint a stark picture of failure by Nye County authorities: Failure to pursue cruelty charges despite documented evidence, failure to hold a bad breeder accountable, and failure to save hundreds of dogs from suffering.
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Now, we’ve learned the sheriff has launched an internal investigation into potential cruelty involving her own staff.
But behind the scenes, her motives are being called into question.
When Vasili Platunov and Oksana Higgins were arrested and charged with felony cruelty in August, authorities seized nearly 300 dogs from a property in Amargosa.
MORE: Internal emails, records reveal failure to act by Nye County officials in dog cruelty case
Platonov had moved the animals to get them out of Pahrump, where for years he’d been in violation of a town ordinance for having too many dogs.
Nye County Sheriff’s Office Capt. David Boruchowitz explained, “There have been court proceedings for years relating to his presence here in Pahrump which violates that town ordinance and that was the reason that prompted him to move to Amargosa is to try and avoid that town ordinance.”
But moving the dogs only moved the problem.
Nye County Commission Chairman Frank Carbone said, “Animal Control was doing a check as the animals were being moved up to Amargosa.”
The county agency was doing a lot more than checking.
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Internal documents reveal Nye County Animal Control Lt. Thomas Klenczar personally helped Platunov on the taxpayers’ time and dime, which is particularly troubling considering Klenczar’s own officers wrote up 235 counts of cruelty against Platunov back in February in a case Klenczar later downplayed and the DA did not pursue.
A June 2 email from Klenczar to Sheriff Sharon Wehrly reads: “Stopped off to check on the progress of the dogs today. He has taken down a lot of his portable pens and I will be transporting them to Amargosa next week.”
“Oh, really?” said a surprised Commissioner Carbone. “How many animals did we move? I don’t know. You know more than I do right now.”
Klenczar also went shopping for Platonov. In a July 6 email, the lieutenant notes Platonov is having trouble getting brackets to build kennels and provide shade, writing, “I am going to shop around for the hardware he needs.”
Then, on July 18, Klenczar emails again that, “Animal Control assisted him (Platunov) with his move to help him out some… I tried to get the numbers to zero to make it easy for everyone.”
But as we learned after Platunov and Higgins were arrested, police records show the animals’ suffering got far worse after the move to Amargosa.
“Most of their health is related to being in close quarters with so many dogs. So, we had a lot of dogs with wounds and injuries related to that. And obviously the global malnutrition and dehydration that was occurring out there,” said Capt. Boruchowitz. “We’re the animals’ keepers and to keep them in conditions where they’re so poorly taken care of… these poor animals are locked in cages with no food, no water, can’t even get out of the sun. “
Commissioner Carbone says the court shares some of the blame for allowing Platonov to move the dogs in the first place.
“That’s what the judge was looking at—that he was removing the problem from one place and moving it to some place else—and in my mind, not looking at the consequences of that. But again, I’m not a judge. And I can’t tell a district judge what to do. I might not be happy about what he’s doing, but I can’t tell him what to do,” Carbone said.
Nye County District Judge Robert Lane declined our request for an interview and would not talk at all about the case.
Sheriff Wehrly wouldn’t talk on camera either but did say she’d launched an internal investigation into possible animal cruelty during the timeframe the dogs were being moved to Amargosa, as well as the quick deterioration in their health from late July to late August.
Based on his personal involvement, Lt. Klenczar would likely be a target of that internal investigation.
He wouldn’t talk to us either.
But we did find a revealing email he sent to Sheriff Wehrly on July 27. He wrote, “I recently addressed the Russian dog situation and handled it for YOU to look good. The proper way to handle that would have been to confiscate all three hundred dogs and let you and the county figure out what to do with it. However, to make your life easier and make you look good to the county, I was able to relocate 300 dogs out of Pahrump. This problem has been going on for thirteen years with zero resolutions put in place. I worked tirelessly on weekends and donated my time and supplies to get those dogs moved for YOU. The DA, county manager, judge, and prosecutors all said thank you, yet you expressed zero gratitude and instead said nothing other than ‘good’.”
Pahrump neighbors can’t make sense of how authorities have dealt with Platonov.
“And the fact that he’s just neglected them that long that we’ve noticed, or seen, or smelled, or anything along those lines… He’s not a good person,” said Brian Tomkowiak, whose family has lived next door to Platonov. for 11 years.
“We’ve made everybody aware that needs to be. Why wasn’t 30, 40, 50 dogs ever addressed instead of now it being over 300? Those are the questions you want answered.”
The answer we got is that Platonov’s dogs are his property, and his fight with the county over how many dogs he can have has been tied up in civil court.
He wants the court to give him about 40 of the dogs back that he claims he sold.
The case is back in court on Sept. 29.
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