North Las Vegas City Councilman Isaac Barron is lying when he says he didn’t know nearly 100 dogs were packed into squalid living conditions at a home he owns, asserts a family member of Barron’s renters.
Steve Maltz, brother of Eric and Albert Maltz, who lived in the home that caught fire Sunday night, killing 41 dogs, said Barron had been in the house just six months ago.
“He knew about the dogs. There is no way you can step foot in the house without seeing there are about 100 dogs in there,” Steve Maltz said Monday.
His brothers had rented from the councilman for more than five years and always had several dogs, he said.
Steve Maltz said his brother Eric loved dogs and would pick up strays out of fear that they would be euthanized in a shelter. The situation spun out of control when sometimes his brother didn’t have money to get the dogs fixed, said Steve Maltz, who had secretly called animal control a week ago, but hadn’t gotten a response.
Neighbors said animal control came by last week and left a note at the rental home at 2604 Stanley Ave., near Owens Avenue and Civic Center Drive.
Councilman Barron said in a city news release that he was heartbroken and unaware of the conditions inside the house. Barron said he filed a notice of eviction a week ago after the occupants wouldn’t let him in.
“I hope those responsible are held accountable by the authorities. As a councilman I will be looking into regulations that ensure this doesn’t happen again,” Barron said.
Steve Maltz said if animal activists and the public want someone to blame, they should blame Barron.
“The only thing that (Eric) did wrong is he had too many dogs,” Steve Maltz said. “This house burned down because it wasn’t taken care of because of that damn owner. This is the simple case of a slumlord.”
Both of his brothers are disabled and money was hard to come by, Steve Maltz said. Eric lost his job as a limo driver recently and the pair was waiting for assistance and social security, their brother said. Steve Maltz said the brothers had paid rent by making deals with the councilman for years. Sometimes it was to hold off on rent for a bit until they could make ends meet, one time they paid by buying a pickup truck at an auction and fixing it up, he said.
Most recently, the brothers traded a rifle for rent. But Barron said they still owed money and that’s what set off the eviction notice, Steve Maltz said.
Steve Maltz said the house was uninhabitable and he wanted his brothers to ask Barron to make repairs, but his brothers felt threatened by Barron.
Steve Maltz described the landlord-tenet relationship as one built on “unspoken blackmail”, the understanding being that if his brothers demanded something be fixed, Barron would call the police about the dogs.
“I used to think this guy was cool,” Steve Maltz said. “But he’s not cool. He’s a politician”
Barron did not respond to multiple text messages and phone calls asking for comment.
Steve Maltz said he was completely against his brothers having dozens of dogs, but calling it animal cruelty isn’t right.
“They are trying to portray him as an evil person,” Steve Maltz said. “His crime is having too many dogs and caring about them.”
Firefighters responded to the blaze just before 8 p.m. Sunday.
Fifty-two dogs were taken from the house for care or shelter, North Las Vegas Fire Department Capt. Cedric Williams said Monday.
Neighbors say two brothers had lived in the house for several years. The pair worked as mechanics out of the home, neighbors said.
Responders noticed a number of dogs running around in front of the house. Once they got inside the house, they found about 100 dogs, Williams said.
The fire was quickly contained, but the house sustained heavy smoke damage. One male occupant of the home was taken to University Medical Center for injuries that were not considered life-threatening injuries.
The investigation is ongoing, but North Las Vegas police said Monday morning that charges likely will be filed in connection with the case.
Contact reporter Kimberly De La Cruz at 702-383-0381, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @KimberlyinLV. Contact Bethany Barnes at email@example.com or 702-477-3861. Find her on Twitter: @betsbarnes