LAS VEGAS (AP) — A weekend fire that tore through a North Las Vegas home with 93 small dogs — more than 15 times the maximum number of canines allowed in a house by the city — killed 45 of them and injured one man. Now the two tenants who rented the home from a North Las Vegas city councilman could face animal-cruelty charges, authorities said Monday.
Councilman Isaac Barron issued a statement Monday through a city spokesman saying that he's heartbroken about the dogs that perished at the Stanley Avenue home he owns, and he expects people will be held accountable if crimes were committed.
"I was completely unaware of the conditions inside the rental home and filed a notice of eviction just last week after repeatedly being denied entry by the occupants," the statement said. "As a councilman, I will be looking into regulations that ensure this doesn't happen again."
City law allows residents to have no more than three adult dogs unless they pay a $25 annual fee for a so-called dog-fancier permit to keep up to six canines at home.
Barron is also a teacher at Rancho High School in Las Vegas. It wasn't immediately clear if his tenants had the dogs as pets or were breeding them for sale.
Their names weren't immediately made public.
City spokesman Mitch Fox said Barron told him Monday that he knew the men had dogs, but he didn't know how many.
The eviction notice was served last Wednesday, Fox said, and the councilman said his tenants were several months behind on rent.
One of the three bedrooms in the single-story home of less than 1,200 square feet was described as piled with animal waste.
Police Sgt. Chrissie Coon said the men could face charges that include animal abuse or mistreatment.
One man was hospitalized in stable condition after the fire for treatment of unspecified injuries and was in stable condition, North Las Vegas fire Capt. Cedric Williams said.
Crews that responded to the home Sunday evening reported seeing dogs running in front and backyards, but found most inside the smoke-filled house, Williams said. Some dogs were revived with oxygen.
"We have pet-rescue masks, and many were resuscitated," Williams said. "They did a wonderful job."
The dogs were described as Chihuahua-sized, but Coon and Williams said they didn't know their breed. Animal-control officers took the live animals to the Lied Animal Foundation shelter in Las Vegas.
Williams said the fire appeared to have been accidental, and it may have been sparked by an electrical malfunction.
The single-story masonry home, which dates to 1954, sits on a crowded residential street about 5 miles northeast of the Las Vegas Strip. Williams called it a total loss because of smoke damage.
Similar cases involving large numbers of animals kept in homes have led to citations. Two months ago, a woman who was keeping more than 100 cats and one dog in her North Las Vegas home was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty. Her animals were taken to a shelter, and the home was declared uninhabitable.