A hard-partying New York socialite and hotel owner was charged with animal torture this week, but offered no explanation in court for why he attempted to torch two small dogs.
His attorney blamed it on his client’s bipolar disorder.
Vikram Chatwal, 44, founder of the Dream Hotel Group, turned himself into police Tuesday — more than a week after a dog walker reported he had used a lighter and an aerosol can to set fire to the dogs she was walking.
The incident took place outside Chatwal’s SoHo condo.
The video above, obtained by TMZ, shows the aftermath. Chatwal can be seen apologizing to a group of people, and going so far as to invite him up to his apartment to see his art and his “water collection.”
Police had been called by that point, but they didn’t arrive until after Chatwal disappeared.
The dogs had their fur singed, but weren’t seriously injured.
Chatwal is founder of The Dream Hotel Group, which includes the Dream, Time and Unscripted hotels. He has been in and out of rehab and is known for partying with the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Kate Moss and Gisele Bündchen.
His bio says he is also a model, movie producer and actor and roles in the movies “Zoolander” and “Spring Breakers.”
Chatwal’s lawyer told CBS that Chatwal is a dog owner, and owns six himself.
“The allegations today and the picture the prosecutor has tried to paint fly in the face of the reality of who Vikram Chatwal is,” said the lawyer, Arthur Aidala. “By all accounts, he is a peaceful, law-abiding, soft-spoken, animal-loving, dog-owning individual who is not some guy running around the street trying to injure little animals.”
Chatwal posted $50,000 bail Tuesday on charges of animal torture, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. He is due back in court Dec. 8.
The judge also issued an order of protection for the two dogs — Molly and Finnegan — their owner and their dog walker, the New York Daily News reported.
Assistant District Attorney Erin Satterthwaite said Chatwal was screaming, “The dogs must die!”
Chatwal’s attorney said his client was a lifetime animal lover who suffers from a bipolar disorder but would never harm an animal.
Witnesses say Chatwal was arguing with the dog walker and approached the two Jack Russell Terriers with a blow torch that he put together from an aerosol can and a lighter.
(Photo: Vikram Chatwal, Facebook)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 20th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aerosol, animal cruelty, animals, argument, bipolar disorder, burned, charged, cruelty to animals, dog, dog walker, dogs, dream, dream hotel, hotel, jack russell terriers, lighter, manhattan, new york, owner, pets, Socialite, soho, time, tmz, torched, torture, unscripted, Vikram Chatwal
And yet, thousands of good-hearted souls were apparently fooled by a Facebook post of a dog with a slice of ham draped over his eyes and snout.
Two days before Christmas, the photo was posted on Facebook by a man — equal parts grinch and troll, we suspect — who offered this description:
“This poor dog was badly burned and disfigured trying to save his family from a house fire. One like = one prayer. One share = ten prayers.
Many of the animal lovers of Facebook — and their numbers are legion — went on to like it, share it and leave comments voicing their best wishes for the pooch.
Perhaps it’s because the ham slice does look a little like bloodied gauze. Perhaps it was the prayer request that accompanied the photos. Perhaps Christmas spirit had a little to do with the outpouring of well wishes that followed the posting.
With many dog lovers, compassion kicks in immediately — reflexively, even — and long before their cynicism does.
(We’d only hope that none of the well-wishers went so far as to send any donations to the jerk who wrote the post.)
Stephen Roseman, a few days after posting the photo and desciption on Facebook, explained in a comment that it was all a joke:
“People, people this isn’t even my dog, I found this picture on fascistbook, stole it, and decided to use it in a prank to fool these religitards.
“So I did, and low and behold idiots left and right fall for it, and those that didn’t, seem to think they have a superior intelligence or something, for pointing out the obvious.
“Keep in mind, I never told a single soul to like this, that is their choice, I don’t give a f*ck either way.”
Apparently Roseman was trying to pull a fast one — not just on those sensitive and soft-hearted types who fell for the story, but on those more cynical ones who voiced the opinion that the story was clearly fake.
Roseman apparently has no use for either of those.
Fortunately, for him, soliciting prayers (and shares) under false pretenses is not a crime (a sin, maybe, but not a crime). So it’s likely his only punishment — assuming those death threats against him are idle chatter — will be losing some Facebook friends.
“I’ve literally lost count on how many death threats I’ve accumulated because of Ham Dog,” he said in a subsequent Facebook comment. “I’m not concerned, but rather amused, regardless, I’m armed everywhere I go anyways. I find it motivating…”
The prank has since been exposed and straightened out by Snopes.com and several news media outlets.
But not before thousands had responded, many of them voicing sympathy and passing on their prayers. Using his own, shares-to-prayers formula, the dog got 1.3 million of them.
We have only one of our own to pass along: That lo and behold (that’s lo, Stephen, with no “w”) Stephen Roseman might one day grow up.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 4th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, burned, disfigured, dog, dogs, facebook, fire, fooled, ham, hoax, house, like, pets, post, prayers, share, slice, snout, social media, stunt
A dog with the “F” word branded into her side isn’t too likely to get adopted — at least not by anyone who would make for a good doggie parent — so a Kentucky shelter took steps to obscure the profanity with cosmetic surgery.
The young female pit bull mix was found tied to a fence in August, and taken in by the Lexington Humane Society, which named her Felicity.
Cosmetic surgery was performed last week by a staff veterinarian to try to hide the four-letter word.
Lexington Humane Society officials say they have an adoptive home lined up for Felicity, but wanted to do surgery before releasing her.
Thanks to donations from the public, a $3,500 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the dog’s abuser or abusers, according to an Associated Press article.
Wouldn’t it be nice — felicitous, even — if there were a stiff mandatory sentence for disfiguring or mutilating dogs, say 15 years in prison, with no possibility of parole.
That might dissuade some from using dogs for graffiti.
If nothing else, it would forestall those who got caught and convicted from entering their likely future careers as serial murderers.
(Photo: Lexington Humane Society)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 22nd, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, branded, burned, chemical, cosmetic surgery, dog, dogs, felicity, graffiti, hide, lexington humane society, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, profanity, skin
It seems like every year I’ve teetered a little closer to disliking the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.
A cute concept at first — and one that helped remind us what a superficial thing beauty can be — it seems to have grown into a pageant that, despite its focus on “ugliness,” inches ever closer to reflecting many of the same negative traits of purebred dog shows and beauty contests.
As the quirky little contest at the Sonoma County Fair in Petaluma has grown huge, and the title more sought after, there has been a concurrent increase in cut-throat competition, campaigning and hype.
But it’s the choice of this year’s winner that may have finally pushed me into being a fan no more. The title of World’s Ugliest Dog was won by a dog whose unusual appearance is the result of being abused.
And that troubles me.
This year’s winning dog, Peanut, a two-year-old mixed breed, is from Greenville, N.C. He was adopted from a shelter after being found abandoned and severely abused. It is suspected he was set on fire. While he’s healthy now, his eyelids, lips and patches of hair on his body were burned off, which accounts for much of his unusual appearance.
His owner, Holly Chandler, held fundraising campaigns to travel to California and enter Peanut in the contest — all, she said, to help raise awareness about animal abuse.
Given that’s a large part of this website’s mission, too, I have no problem with that cause.
I’m all for celebrating dogs who look different. I’m all for celebrating dogs who have overcome harsh odds. I’m all for abused dogs recovering and becoming rich and famous while their abusers rot in prison.
Where my discomfort comes in, I think, is placing abused animals in a “contest” context and, within that party atmosphere, picking a winner whose looks are the result of being horribly mistreated at the hands of man.
Abuse, it seems to me, should not be connected to pageantry and cash prizes, no matter how circuitous that link is.
Yesterday, I watched a local TV report about Peanut winning the contest. The anchor people, while noting Peanut had an inner beauty, laughed and joked about his appearance, as I’m sure the crowd did at the contest.
Peanut beat 24 other dogs to win the contest Friday, receiving more than double the votes the second-place dog received.
While his owner seemed sincere in her purpose, and probably did raise awareness about animal abuse, I can’t help but wonder whether we should all be chuckling — even while feeling sympathy and love for Peanut — at his appearance, at his prominent teeth, or his eyes that never close, given it was all the result of a cruel criminal act.
On the other hand, the world should know Peanut’s story — and the contest was a way to make that happen.
Maybe, though, there are better, more dignified ways, such as writing a book, or taking him to schools, or sharing his story with the news media — ways that might avoid the appearance of exploitation and have a little less of the circus atmosphere that seems, in my mind at least, to clash with serious nature of animal abuse.
I doubt there is any danger of people disfiguring their dogs in hopes of winning the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, but — given the world can be pretty ugly — stranger things have happened.
I think it would be wise, and in good taste, for contest officials to impose and enforce a ban on dogs whose “ugliness” or unusual looks are a result of actions taken by humans — whether those actions are heinous criminal acts or cosmetic steps, like dyeing, taken for amusement purposes.
While the contest’s web page states that “all the dogs must provide a veterinarian’s paperwork asserting that they are healthy and are ‘naturally ugly,’ Peanut’s victory casts some doubt on how strongly that’s being enforced.
All that said, I don’t find any fault with Chandler entering Peanut in the contest. She was on a mission. She made her point.
Maybe the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, after 25 years, has made its point too. A cute and well-intentioned gimmick with a sweet message, it might be growing into a bit of a monster. Maybe it should fade way before it becomes too Westminstery.
I have problems with contests that award people, or dogs, for good looks and conformity. Maybe I have issues with awarding them for “bad” looks and non-conformity, too.
Definitely I don’t like the idea of people laughing and finding amusement in a dog’s misery, which, in a very distant, removed and indirect way, is what’s going on.
That’s the best I can do at explaining the ill-at-ease feeling Peanut’s victory gives me.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
(Photo: From Holly Chandler’s Gofundme page)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 23rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2014, abuse, animal cruelty, animals, awards, awareness, beauty, burned, competition, contest, contests, dogs, peanut, petaluma, pets, set on fire, sonoma county fair, ugliest, ugly, world's ugliest dog
No charges have yet to be filed against a California man who beat a German shepherd and Rottweiler to death with a shovel, burned them and buried them in a pit.
And they might not be. The owners of the dogs say they’ve been told what the man did was legal under California law, because he was protecting his chickens.
The two dogs — named Jager and Luke — escaped from their backyard Saturday through a hole in the fence and ended up in a yard four miles away, according to KTVU.
The owner of that home, saying the dogs were trying to attack his chickens, beat them both to death with a shovel, then took them to his workplace and used company equipment to dig a hole. He doused their bodies with gasoline, set them on fire, and later covered them up.
The dog owners, Ellen Barkley and Rocky Osborn, learned what happened when they returned home Sunday and were contacted by Contra Costa County Animal Control Services.
The couple, who rescued the dogs from a shelter two years ago, said they were told state law allows a person to kill dogs who are threatening livestock and poultry.
“It’s how he beat them. By his own admission, he beat them to death with a shovel,” said Osborn. “They had tags. He could have called us. He never did.”
Osborn said the dogs bodies must have burned for hours. All that was left of the animals fit into two small plastic bags.
“I’m blown away. I’m broken. I will never see them again,” said Barkley. “I want the laws to change. This never would have happened.”
A petition to change the state law has been posted at Change.org.
Brentwood police and Contra Costa animal services are investigating the incident.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 2nd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, attacking, beaten, brentwood, buried, burned, california, charges, contra costa county, dogs, german shepherd, jager, killed, laws, legal, legal right, luke, pets, rottweiler, shovel, threatening chickens
“In all my years of doing rescue, I’ve seen a lot of things but I’ve never seen a dog in such horrific condition,” said Rachel Farmer, president and director of Boston Buddies, a rescue group dedicated to saving terriers in southern California.
“How anybody can do this is just beyond me,” Farmer told NBC 4 in Los Angeles.
The dog was found in El Monte and dropped off at a Baldwin Park shelter on May 29. Due to the extent of his injuries, he was euthanized the next day. He did have a microchip, showing he was registered in a Midwestern state.
The dog was emaciated, and burned so badly his muscles were showing through his skin in multiple places, rescuers said.
Farmer came across the dog, believed to be 8 to 10 years old, during her daily check at the Baldwin Park shelter, and informed authorities she wanted to take him. Within hours, though, veterinarians at the shelter told Farmer they needed to put him down.
A Boston Buddies volunteer picked up the dog — who was being called Henry — and took him to another vet for a second opinion, but it was the same as the first.
The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control is investigating what happened to Henry, and tests were underway to determine if his injuries were a result of being burned.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 7th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baldwin park, boston buddies, boston terrier, burned, chemical, dog, dogs, el monte, euthanized, found, henry, investigation, pets, rescue, shelter
Two western Pennsylvania residents have been charged with animal cruelty in connection with the burning and abandoning of a 1-year-old mixed breed dog named Chance.
Raelynn Van Tassel, 23, and Shannon Clarke, 34, both of Sharon, are accused of keeping the dog in a basement for several days without medical treatment after inflicting what are believed to be chemical burns. Days later, they abandoned him in the streets.
In addition to burns over two-thirds of his body, the dog also was found with three broken teeth and a laceration to its mouth, according to WYTV.
The dog was found by a police officer on April 10 and turned over to the Mercer County Humane Society, which took Chance to a local veterinarian for treatment.
He has since been adopted and is expected to survive.
The Mercer County District Attorney’s office and the humane society conducted the investigation.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 10th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandonment, abuse, animal cruelty, animal welfare, arrests, burned, chance, charged, chemicals, dog, dogs, mercer county humane society, pennsylvania, raelynn van tassel, shannon clarke, torture