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Bail set at $40,000 for dog owner in Las Vegas mauling case

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, booking photo provided Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows suspect Jesse Vonstaden, 29, at the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas. Vonstaden faces felony charges including willful disregard for the safety of people and having dangerous or vicious dogs after police say four dogs she owns attacked two neighbors in a northeast Las Vegas neighborhood. Police say a 65-year-old woman was left with critical arm, leg and facial injuries, and a man suffered a severe hand injury. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
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LAS VEGAS >> Bail was set at $40,000 for a 29-year-old single mother ahead of a March 11 preliminary hearing on felony charges after her four dogs mauled two neighbors, including a woman whose arms were nearly ripped off, authorities said Wednesday.

Jesse Vonstaden’s defense attorney, Todd Leventhal, said outside court that Vonstaden feels terrible about the Friday attack, and she thinks someone opened a gate to her yard after a police raid the day before at a home next door.

“This is not something where these dogs were trained to fight or anything like that,” Leventhal told The Associated Press.

Police Officer Laura Meltzer said she couldn’t immediately say if police had been to the neighborhood on Thursday.

The mauling was severe. Skin and muscle was stripped from the arms of the 65-year-old woman, and she suffered deep leg and facial injuries and a broken left wrist, according to a police report. Doctors initially feared the woman would lose an arm and an eye.

Prosecutor Amy Ferreira said Wednesday that doctors reported using more than 100 stitches to treat her.

A man who tried to use gardening tools and a baseball bat to stop the mauling suffered a severe hand injury from a dog bite, police said

A patrol officer shot and killed one of the dogs, and animal control officers impounded three others.

Vonstaden will plead not guilty to felony willful disregard for the safety of others and vicious dog charges, Leventhal said. She could face up to 16 years in prison if she is convicted.

Justice of the Peace Janiece Marshall said that if Vonstaden posts bond for release from jail, she’ll have to serve house arrest and can’t have dogs.

Vonstaden is a law office information technology employee with a 7-year-old daughter. Leventhal said she raised the dogs since they were puppies.

“These were rescue dogs,” the attorney said. “She never abused these dogs.”

Police said Vonstaden characterized the dogs as pit bulls when she received warnings about the dogs in November and January that she needed a permit to keep four pit bulls, and needed rabies and neutering records.

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