Victim: Dog told to attack

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Police handling of case criticized

By Karl Moffatt and Martín Salazar
Las Vegas Optic


A Las Vegas woman says an acquaintance flagged her down onto a property on the 1400 block of 10th Street on Saturday evening and that the woman then sicked her pit bull on her.

Rene Maestas said she was unable to run away from the dog and that as it was biting her, the woman who flagged her down began pummeling her.

“I was literally fighting for my life,” Maestas said, adding that she pleaded with the woman’s boyfriend to get the dog away from her while trying to hold it at bay. “I could have died.”

She said the attack didn’t stop until three Highlands University students walked by and intervened.

Maestas, who suffered bites to her side, stomach, legs and chest, along with a black eye, said just as shocking as the attack she suffered was the way that Las Vegas police handled the situation after she called 911.

Maestas, 39, said one of the officers asked her what she was doing there and told her she asked for it. She said officers then cited her and the other woman, Franchesca Saiz, 28, with misdemeanor counts of public affray. She said officers only spoke to the three men who saved her for maybe 90 seconds, and none of their names are listed as witnesses in the police reports released to the Optic.

“She used that dog as a weapon. That dog could have killed me,” said Maestas, 39.

One of the officers, Michael Padilla, states in his report that he “spoke with Chief Assistant District Attorney Tom Clayton who was informed of the entire situation, in which he agreed to issue both parties municipal citations for public affray and have animal control investigate the dog bite.”

Maestas, who was transported to Alta Vista Regional Hospital by ambulance, acknowledged that she has had prior dealings with law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office as a defendant, but she said she, too, deserves justice.

Las Vegas Police Chief Christian Montaño said the case is ongoing and additional charges may be filed. He confirmed that there was a subsequent altercation involving some of the same individuals.

Saiz’s version

Among the challenges that officers faced in this case was different stories of what occurred prior to the dog attack.

Saiz told the Optic during an interview at her home on Monday that Maestas had been harassing and threatening her for months in an ongoing feud over Saiz’s boyfriend, Anthony Palomino, 39.

Saiz said Maestas “wants” her boyfriend and has been driving by her house, yelling obscenities, flipping her off and offering to fight for him, Saiz said.

On the day of the incident, Saiz said she was on her porch when Maestas rolled up again and began making threats. Then Maestas got out of her car and entered Saiz’s yard despite the presence of the pit bull and a sign stating beware of the guard dog.

“Who in their right mind is going to do that?” Saiz said. “She started a fight; she grabbed my hair and I let my dog go. She (the dog) defended me.”

Maestas was bitten numerous times before a couple of unidentified college students at the nearby Highlands tennis courts could intervene, Saiz said.

Saiz denied Maestas’ claim that she had tricked Maestas into entering her yard by acting like everything was cool between them.

“Why would I do that?” Saiz said.”I didn’t trick her into nothing. She’s the one who started it.”

Saiz said her dog “Estrella” was taken to the pound for observation of rabies since Saiz was unable to produce evidence of the dog’s  having had its shots.

Saiz said she talked to the dog’s former owner who told her that there were shot records available and that she still needed to pick them up to take to court.

Saiz’s dog bite and proof of rabies shot case is scheduled to be heard by Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge, Eddie Trujillo, on May 14, where a determination will be made about the dog’s fate. Saiz’s public affray case will be heard that day too.

Bad blood

Maestas, meanwhile, acknowledges that there have been problems between her and Saiz in the past. But she said she thought that was behind them because several months ago, Palomino’s uncle died, and she dropped by with sodas, and they thanked her for coming.

She said that just before the attack, she was driving around looking for her son, who had left earlier with his friends. She said that as she was driving by Saiz’s house, Saiz waved her over. She said that as she was walking toward Saiz’s house, she noticed the pit bull.

Saiz asked her if she liked her dog, and Maestas said she told her she did and that it looked mean.

Maestas said that’s when Saiz let the dog loose and ordered it to attack her. Maestas said she ran, but the dog caught up to her on the street.

She said she needed stitches for one of the dog bites on her side.

“I’m glad that the dog didn’t kill me or get my face,” she said. Maestas added that the animal control officer and the paramedics treated her with respect.