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
Once again, I’m app-rehensive.
Seems to me we’re turning to apps for just about everything these days — even to accomplish all the simple things that used to come naturally, in time, with a little effort.
Want all the ingredients to cook up a tasty dinner? Don’t go to the grocery store. Fire up an app and have them delivered. Want a ride from here to there, a date, a wife, a plumber, travel directions? Turn to an app.
Need an inspirational phrase or selection of scripture to get through your day? Need to know what the weather’s doing? Don’t open a Bible. Don’t step outside. Fire up an app.
There are, of course, plenty of apps you can use to buy or adopt a dog, or at least get pointed in the right direction. But now comes an app aimed at those who want a dog but can’t have one.
It matches up people who want to spend a limited time with a dog with dog owners who wouldn’t mind a little help — in other words, the app serves as a middle man, as apps often do, charging both sides, as apps often do.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m between dogs, and find myself seeking out a canine fix several times a week. I strongly believe that the joy of dogs should be spread among as many people as possible, and that it’s in a dog’s interest to hang out with as many new people in new situations as possible.
I’m all for those two groups — those with dogs and dog-less folks wanting to spend time with one — getting matched up, assuming all involved are sincere dog-loving sorts without evil agendas. But what’s to assure that?
All these start-up apps promise “screening” and “vetting,” but try to find one that actually describes what steps they take in that process, other than using a vague term like “background check.” You rarely, if ever, will.
My guess is that they all use a background check app for that.
So we end up with psycho Uber drivers, and getting matched up for dates with “millionaire bachelors” who are actually unemployed sex offenders, and plumbers who are only vaguely familiar with what a wrench does.
Bark’N’Borrow is the brainchild of 24-year-old Liam Berkeley.
Berkeley says the app is meant for people who wish they could have a dog, but can’t care for one full-time. It connects them with dog-owners who are willing or wanting to loan them their dog for playdates and sleepovers.
The app also caters to dog owners who are interested in trading dog sitting responsibilities with each other, thereby avoiding hiring a dog sitter or relying on a kennel.
The app had 70,000 users even before it debuted its 2.0 version on Friday, National Dog Day, according to Forbes.com. The new version includes a paid subscription model — users pay $7.99 for one month or $4.99 a month if they sign up for three months.
“Dog sharing connects you with people and puts your dog in a happier place,” Berkeley said. “There’s more love to be shared.”
With the app, dog owners can browse potential borrowers, and borrowers can flip through borrow-able dogs, seeing where they are located, their breed, size, personality, breed and training level.
On the plus side, Bark’N’Borrow is donating 5% of all subscription fees to the Best Friends Animal Society.
It also says it is insuring every subscriber — both dog owner and dog borrower — for accidents up to $2 million, just to be on the safe side. (That insurance only applies to dog dates that are scheduled on the app’s platform.)
Berkeley points out that dog owners hire dog walkers they don’t know all the time. “Your dog sitter and dog walker are a stranger until they become your dog sitter or dog walker,” he said. “We do a very good job of vetting each individual. We try to create the safest, most responsible community possible.”
The website does not describe what’s involved in that “vetting.”
Berkeley, originally from Sydney, moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment and launched the site in 2014. He said he came up with the app idea when he and his then-girlfriend wanted to adopt a dog but knew they couldn’t look after one with their busy schedules.
Instead, they played with neighbors’ dogs, which helped Berkeley realized many people — those with dogs and those without them — would like an arrangement like that.
It is a wonderful thing, when it happens naturally.
To coax it into place by remote control, and on a nationwide scale, strikes me as problematic — just like those dog rental companies that popped up a few years ago and, thankfully, went away.
For a non-dog owner seeking some dog time, there might be better ways:
Go for walks and see who you run into. Strike up conversations (an exchange of words that occurs verbally and face to face, without the use of a device). Volunteer at your local shelter or with a rescue group. Go to a dog park, even though you don’t have a dog. (It’s allowed.) Attend dog-related functions.
For dog owners, good old-fashioned friends are probably a preferable, and less pimp-like, alternative, to turning your dog’s leash over to a stranger and saying “OK, have fun, see ya in a few hours.”
I won’t go so far as to say one should never use this app.
I’d just say use it carefully, as you might use Craigslist. If you do meet with a listed dog borrower (or even an owner), do it in public, with a friend along. And don’t rely on your first impression, or all that vetting the app promises.
In other words, do like they did in the old days and get to know that person first.
Before you turn your dog over to a stranger, make sure he or she is not a stranger anymore.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 30th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, app, apps, background checks, barknborrow, borrow, dog, dogs, friends, insurance, loan, loaner, owners, pets, screening, strangers, time, vetting, visits
A survey conducted for Milk-Bone says more Americans than ever are including their dogs in their New Year’s resolutions.
To which dogs, could they respond, would probably do so with a sarcastic “Gee, thanks.”
But fret not canines. Putting you on a diet ranks all the way down at nine in the top 10 list, and the most popular resolutions are mainly ones dogs would wholeheartedly support.
And keep it mind, we humans hardly ever carry out our resolutions, anyway.
Three thousand pet owners were surveyed, and the most popular resolutions were:
1. I will spend more time with my dog. (52%)
2. I will help my dog to have better health and wellness. (42%)
3. I will take my dog on more trips with me. (34%)
4. I will brush my dog’s teeth regularly. (31%)
5. I will help my dog get essential vitamins and nutrients.(30%)
6. I will help my dog become less anxious and stressed. (29%)
7. I won’t feed my dog food from the dinner table. (25%)
8. I won’t leave my dog home alone for quite so long. (23%)
9. I will help my pet lose weight. (21%)
10. I will take my dog to dog training class. (15%)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 31st, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attention, canine, diet, dog, dogs, happy new yea, health, milk-bone, new year, new year's resolutions, new years, pets, resolutions, survey, time
According to the old saying — at least as old as Shakespeare — every dog has his day.
In California they just got an extra one.
Interpreting a regulation that sets the “holding period” for a stray dog impounded in a public or private animal shelter at “six business days” (or, if certain exceptions apply, “four business days”), a state appeals court in San Francisco has ruled that Saturdays don’t count as business days.
The ruling was the first to interpret a 1998 California law that increased the holding periods for public and private shelters, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The ruling will affect Contra Costa County Animal Services and all other counties and cities with similar policies.
The case goes back to 2006, when a miniature pinscher named Duke, was impounded at a county shelter in Pinole on a Thursday. The shelter held the dog until the following Wednesday, when another person took him. Duke’s owner, Veena Purifoy, went to the shelter the next day the following to find him gone.
She sued both the county and the new owner, who relinquished Duke in a settlement, Evans said. The suit against the county challenged its claim that the shelter had held the dog for the required four business days.
Overturning a judge’s ruling in the county’s favor, the appeals court said the state law did not define business days but was intended to increase holding periods from the pre-1998 law, which required a 72-hour hold.
Excluding Saturday as a business day serves “the legislative goal of access, because longer holding periods will often provide more opportunities for redemption and adoption,” Justice Martin Jenkins said in the 3-0 ruling.
(Photo from Cafepress.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 31st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, california, contra costa, control, days, duke, euthanasia, every dog has its day, holding period, impound, impounded, judge, law, lawsuit, limits, rescue, ruling, services, shakespeare, shelters, state appeals court, strays, time, tom hayden, veena purifoy
But between busy schedules, foul weather and the recent rise in leash law fears here in Baltimore, wearing your dog out with a good romp can be difficult.
My spring schedule involves farmers markets, trips to see family and friends, graduations, cook outs, baseball games, and weekend journeys – all of which starts to eat into my time to exercise my border collie.
It has been made much worse lately by the monsoon season we have been experiencing — great for the crops, terrible for dog owners.
The soon-to-be-corrected hike in leash law fines to $1,000 really cut into the number of people taking their dogs to Baltimore parks, too, with many who once let their dog play off leash, turning instead to settling for a quick on-leash walk.
It’s harder to raise a dog in the city, harder yet when the weather doesn’t cooperate. A dog owner in an urban area has no choice. Assuming you don’t have a pricey doggie treadmill, you, like the proverbial mailperson, have no choice but to be out there – rain, sleet or snow. And even if you do have a yard, you still have to deal with snow covered fur, wet dog smells, and muddy paws. This April, soggy as it was, reminded me how important it is to have a variety of ways to exercise your dog in your own home.
So, I thought I would share a few:
1) Spend a couple minutes a day training your dog. If you have taken an obedience class or even watched Victoria Stilwell, you have some basic idea of how to teach sit. Running through a couple minutes a day with your dog on behaviors they already know, or things you want them to learn, will keep them out of trouble.
2) Play ball in the house. This is only an option if you aren’t an antique collector, and it won’t work for large dogs unless you live in a warehouse. But roll a ball across the room to your dog. Let him/her bring it back. Repeat. Keep repeating until one of you grows bored.
3) Present new or new-again toys. If your dog has toys that have fallen out of rotation, or that are no longer fun, take them away. Wash them, and hide them in a closet. When you have a rainy boring day, or a 10th rainy boring day, you might be surprised how excited your dog becomes for any kind of distraction. Other ways to make toys fun, even if they weren’t before, include burying the toys in kibble for a day to get it smelling like food, and inserting replacement squeakers because, as we all know, it’s all about the squeak.
4) Take a class. This is great in the dead of winter and in the sweltering days of summer. Sign up for an obedience class. The spaces are climate controlled and you will be amazed how tired your dog is after an hour of using their brain. It also helps you have options for training sessions in the house.
5) Mental Puzzles are another great option. You could buy a commercially available dog puzzle, such as the ones here. You could serve dinner in a food dispensing Kong. Even dumping kibble on the kitchen floor, putting it in a stuffed animal that has already been gutted, or turning dinner into a game of fetch will buy you some exercise credits.
6) Set up a play date. If you have friends with dogs that get along with your dog, set up a play date. Move the fragile stuff out of the room, and let them play. Better yet, find a friend with a garage and get a couple dogs together. Even an hour of romping and wrestling will wear your dog out. Some of the daycares and training spaces in Baltimore are available for rent in 15 minute increments during off times. We rent out our training space for play dates or practice sessions any day of the week.
The key to surviving rough weather with a pet that requires exercise is to find ways to entertain them. If none of the above seem to be enough, I can recommend a great place to buy rain boots.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ball, behave!, behavior, busy, challenges, city, class, day care, devices, dog, dogs, exercise, fetch, food, house, indoor, indoors, inside, kong, leash law, mental, new again, obedience, old toys, play date, puzzles, sit, squeakers, stay, time, tired, toys, training, training centers, treats, tricks, urban, weather
A perennial favorite for those seeking an alternative to the Super Bowl, the Puppy Bowl is basically two hours of watching rambunctious puppies frolic on the gridiron of Animal Planet Stadium.
Puppy Bowl V will be the first to feature an entire cast of shelter and rescue dogs — all 20 dogs featured are up-for-adoption pets, or free agents to use the sports term. Two are from our neck of the woods — the SPCA of Anne Arundel County.
The SPCA also provided the cats that will be featured as half-time entertainment.
To kick start this year’s sports extravaganza, “Pepper the Parrot,” will be singing a unique rendition of the National Anthem.
To find out more about the Puppy Bowl, and how to vote for Most Valuable Puppy, visit Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl web page.
The Puppy Bowl airs from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday on Animal Planet network.
Here’s a look at last year’s action:
Posted by John Woestendiek January 29th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, adoptable, animal planet, discovery, dog, dogs, football, gridiron, kickoff, most valuable puppy, network, pepper the parrot, petfinder, puppies, puppy bowl, puppy bowl V, pups, rescue, schedule, shelter, sunday, super bowl, super bowl sunday, time, tv