NEW YORK -- A New York City hotelier is facing animal cruelty charges after allegedly burning two dogs in a verbal dispute with a dog walker, according to the NYPD.
The NYPD issued a wanted poster for 44-year-old Vikram Chatwal after the Oct. 7 incident, and Chatwal turned himself in with an attorney Tuesday morning, an NYPD spokesman told Crimesider.
According to an NYPD source, Chatwal allegedly confronted a woman who was walking two dogs outside the Manhattan residential complex where he lives. Amid the argument, he’s accused of taking out an aerosol can and using a lighter to ignite the spray from the can to burn the two dogs.
The dogs suffered minor burns and hair loss, the source said. The woman walking the dogs wasn’t injured.
Chatwal’s personal web page was suspended Tuesday morning, but a bio page previously featured on the site describes him as the founder of hotels including Dream, Night, Time, Unscripted, and Augustus. The bio also says he is a model, actor and movie producer who has had roles in the movies Zoolander and Spring Breakers. According to news reports, Chatwal is a friend of actress Lindsey Lohan.
He’s facing a felony count of criminal mischief, two misdemeanor animal cruelty counts, two misdemeanor counts of arson and one misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment, police say.
Chatwal’s lawyer told Crimesider he vehemently denies the allegations and expects he will be vindicated in court.
“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.”
Aidala said the dogs were not injured, though he acknowledged their hair was singed. He said the animals didn’t require emergency treatment, and weren’t seen by a veterinarian until several days after the incident.
He said Chatwal owns six dogs.
Chatwal is due in court Dec. 8.