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
A young actress helped save an old dog in New Mexico last week, and Grandpa, as he’s being called, is now resting comfortably at a dog hospice and animal sanctuary that provides elderly animals with acupuncture and other Western and alternative medication.
“His life force is not strong,” said the founder and director of Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary, in (you guessed it, didn’t you?) Santa Fe. “It’s hard to tell how long he’ll be with us.”
The dog — thought to be about 15 years old — had apparently been abandoned at Santa Fe’s Frank Ortiz Dog Park, where actress Rachel Brosnahan came across him last Friday while at the park with her boyfriend and two dogs.
Others at the park had already reported his condition to animal control, but Brosnahan sat with Grandpa until help arrived.
“We thought he was injured because he couldn’t stand up,” said Brosnahan, who stars in the television series Manhattan, which is filmed in the area.
“I think he was in shock,” added Brosnahan, who also appeared in the Netflix series House of Cards. ” He was panting a lot and we brought him some water, but he only drank a little.”
Grandpa seemed to appreciate the company, she said, especially that of her own dogs, including Nicky, a pit-bull mix.
Jennifer Steketee, the Santa Fe Animal Shelter’s director of veterinary services, said staff gave the dehydrated dog IV fluids, and that — other than arthritis and other symptoms associated with his advanced age — he showed no other signs of illness.
The dog was not microchipped and had no tags or other identification.
Because of his age, the shelter contacted Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary.
Pedersen, who met the dog on Tuesday, said Grandpa would be a perfect fit for her sanctuary, which provides eldercare and hospice for dogs, horses and poultry.
Brosnahan, who offered to foster the dog, said she was happy to hear Grandpa would be living the rest of his life there — and that she plans to visit him soon.
“I am so happy he’s going to be cared for at such a wonderful place,” she said.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 26th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, actress, animals, dog, dog park, dogs, elderly, frank ortiz dog park, grandpa, hospice, house of cards, kindred spirits animal sanctuary, manhattan, pets, rachel brosnahan, sanctuary, santa fe
The board of a ritzy Manhattan co-op is requiring some residents undergo testing of their blood and spit to determine if they are pure enough — and of the proper type — to live there.
As of last month, dog owners living in the luxury tower at 170 West End Avenue must have their veterinarian sign off on the canine’s pedigree and, if the pet is a mix, detail the percentage of each breed, according to DNAInfo.com
The policy is designed to purge the building of any pedigrees the board deems troublesome.
And the board deems many breeds troublesome — 27 in all, including the Pomeranian and the Maltese.
Residents were informed of the new policy a few months ago.
The board policy says the 27 breeeds were chosen based on “documented information regarding their tendency towards aggressiveness.”
In the case of mixed breed dogs, the co-op board is requiring owners to have their pet undergo a DNA test. If the test shows a dog to be made up of more than 50 percent of one of the outlawed breeds, it will have to leave the building.
Initially, they wanted to require mandatory DNA testing of all dogs, but they amended the policy to require the testing “at the board’s discretion.”
The latest version of the policy, issued on May 26, says that if a dog’s breed is unknown “the board at its sole discretion may require a resident to perform DNA testing.”
The 484-unit, 42-story cooperative is one of eight buildings that comprise Lincoln Towers, a 20-acre property near Lincoln Center managed by FirstService Residential. Each building has its own co-op board and makes its own policies.
The board policy also requires that residents register their dog and provide a mugshot of the canine.
The list of banned breeds includes St. Bernards and German shepherds, pit bulls, basset hounds — and even the tiny shih tzu.
“It’s like dog racism essentially,” one resident said of the new policy. “It’s beyond offensive, it’s intrusive.”
(Photo: From NYcurbed.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 17th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 170 West End Ave., animals, banned, board, breed bans, breeds, co-op, discrimination, dna, dog, dogs, german shepherd, Lincoln Towers, maltese, mandatory, manhattan, mixed breeds, new york, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, policy, pomeranian, racism, shih-tzu, st. bernard, testing, tests
A blind man and his guide dog who were struck by a subway train in Manhattan Tuesday will be able to remain together — thanks to donations from members of the public touched by their story.
Cecil Williams fainted and fell on the New York City subway tracks, taking his harnessed dog, Orlando, with him.
Orlando barked for help and stayed by his side, even as the train passed over them.
In a story about the accident that aired on NBC Nightly News Tuesday night, it was reported that Orlando was slated to retire in January, and that Williams lacked the funds to continue to care for the dog afterwards, when the dog would no longer be covered by his insurance.
Since then, enough donations to their cause have been received by Guiding Eyes for the Blind to help pay for all of Orlando’s retirement expenses, and ensure that the pair’s eight-year relationship continues.
Williams, 61, was on his way to the dentist when he fainted at the 125th Street platform. Witnesses said the dog was barking and tried to stop Williams from falling, as he is trained to do. When they both landed on the tracks, Orlando tried to rouse Williams, who was unconscious. Both lay there as a slow-moving subway train passed above them.
Nieither sustained serious injuries.
“The dog saved my life,” Williams said of his Labrador retriever. “I’m feeling amazed. I feel that God, the powers that be, have something in store from me. They didn’t take me away this time. I’m here for a reason.”
Williams, who is on insulin and other medications, was taken to a hospital, where Orlando remains at his bedside.
The Brooklyn man has been blind since 1995. Orlando, his second guide dog, “saves my life on a daily basis,” he said.
At a press conference Williams thanked everyone “for showing their humanity and peace and goodwill” by making donations to the guide dog school that trained Orlando.
“All the people who contribute and donated I think we should take our hat off to them,” he said. “There’s still good people in this world.”
(Photo: Williams and Orlando at press conference; by Carlo Allegri / REUTERS, via NBC)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 19th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, blind, cecil williams, dog, dogs, donate, donations, fall, guide dog, guiding eyes, guiding eyes for the blind, labrador, labrador retriever, manhattan, nbc, nightly news, orlando, pets, saved, saves, subway, tracks, train, viewers
Maybe any monkey can’t be a photographer, but any dog can.
At least when its collar is equipped with a camera that’s programmed to snap photos at regular intervals.
The photos from just such experiment are the subject of a new exhibition in New York called “Dogtography: A Dog’s Eye View of New York.”
The idea was dreamed up by McCann Erickson, a public relations agency that was trying to gain some attention for a pro bono client — Mighty Mutts, an animal shelter and adoption service.
The company outfitted dogs with “collar-cams,” small digital cameras that can be mounted on canine collars.
The resulting photos show the world from a dog’s point of view — a lot of “feet and fire hydrants,” Sean Bryan, a group creative director at McCann Erickson told the New York Times blog “Media Decoder.”
The exhibit opens today, with a reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Hendershot Gallery at 195 Chrystie Street in Manhattan. Proceeds from the sale of the photos will go to Mighty Mutts. The exhibition is being sponsored by Mighty Mutts along with Biscuits and Bath, a chain of dog-grooming facilities in New York.
Each photo has a title, and the dogs who wore the collar cams get photo credits.
Dogs are invited to the event.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 10th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: cameras, collar cams, dog, dogs, dogs eye view, dogtography, exhibit, fundraiser, fundraising, herndershot gallery, manhattan, mccann erickson, might mutts, new york, photography, photos, photos by dogs, programmed, public relations
A silky terrier in Manhattan, swept off an 11th floor terrace by high winds, survived a five-story fall with only minor injuries.
Sarann Lindenauer, 67, had opened her terrace door to let in some air, left her apartment for five minutes and came back to find Alfie — a 4-year-old, 10-pound silky terrier — had vanished.
“I ran all over the house calling his name,” she told the New York Post. “I looked down on the plaza and onto the landing of the town houses.”
The dog was swept from the Independence Plaza complex on May 3 during a thunderstorm, landing five stories below, and 30 feet to the east, on a rooftop.
“It was like ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and he was Toto,” said Jessica Gould, a neighbor who rescued Alfie. Gould, who lives in a different tower of the complex, had been looking out at the storm from her seventh-floor window and spotted Alfie.
Gould retrieved the dog and brought him to the lobby.
“‘This is Alfie. Oh, my, God … He came from the 11th floor,” she recounted the doorman saying. Lindenauer was called and reunited with the dog, who sustained only a few bruises and scratches and a cut lip.
“It had to be a horrible, horrible quick wind because he definitely doesn’t jump,” said Lindenauer, who added that Alfie no longer likes going out on the terrace.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alfie, animals, dog, fall, five, floors, gusts, independence plaza, jessica gould, manhattan, new york, news, ohmidog!, pets, powerful, roof, sarann lindenauer, silky terrier, stories, survived, survives, terrace, toto, tribeca, wind, wizard of oz
Manhattan’s dogs will soon have a place to enjoy a night on the town — the Fetch Club, a 3,000-foot indoor dog park/canine club offering spa services, homemade meals and a “doggie disco.”
Scheduled to open next month in a renovated former tobacco factory one block from the South Street Seaport, the establishment will also include a “high-end” boutique, and a lounge where humans can drink coffee, schmooze and Twitter while their dogs frolic.
The New York Post reports that permission to open the club didn’t come easy: After concerns about noise were expressed by neighbors, the Department of Buildings issued a stop-work order in early April. The department reviewed Fetch Club’s permits and ruled the building wasn’t zoned for kennels — meaning it can’t board dogs overnight.
Owner Peter Balestrieri invested $50,000 in additional noise insulation for the club, adding about 8 inches of padding to his walls and ceiling.
While the club won’t board dogs overnight, Balestrieri says it will be the perfect stop for clubbing humans to drop off their dogs. He says he hopes to equip the doggie dance club with a disco ball.
“We’re serious about the well-being of animals, but we also want them to have fun,” said co-owner Jenna Lee, a former finance worker now taking veterinary courses.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 27th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, boutique, canine club, day care, dog park, doggie disco, dogs, fetch club, indoor, lounge, manhattan, new york, news, night care, nightclub, nightclub for dogs, ohmidog!, peter balestrieri, pets, services, spa