A Uniondale man is facing up to 7 years behind bars after prosecutors said he unleashed repeated attacks on his girlfriend’s cat, burning the calico and leaving it with injuries including tail fractures, puncture wounds and permanent scarring.
The Nassau district attorney’s office said Giovanni Santiago, 20, appeared in a Mineola court for arraignment Friday after a grand jury indicted him on charges including aggravated animal cruelty and second-degree criminal mischief, both felonies.
Authorities said a judge released Santiago to probation officials and ordered him to stay away from the cat, named Verona.
Santiago’s attorney confirmed he pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors said Santiago’s girlfriend believed her pet was suffering from an autoimmune disease and took it to an animal hospital multiple times as the abuse went on from last September to December.
A veterinarian alerted the district attorney’s animal crimes unit in December to the cat’s injuries, and investigators found the animal’s owner didn’t know her boyfriend was hurting it when she wasn’t home, according to authorities.
The district attorney’s office said fur will never grow back on part of the animal’s left side and its tail is permanently disfigured. The animal, which also suffered broken teeth and pelvic bruising, is now at North Shore Animal League and will be available for adoption once it fully recovers, according to prosecutors.
In a prepared statement, District Attorney Madeline Singas commended the veterinarian involved in the case for coming forward and said she would “continue to advocate for tougher penalties for animal crimes.”