SOHO — A hotel magnate accused of burning two Jack Russell Terriers with a makeshift blowtorch would never hurt an animal, his lawyer said.
Dream Hotels founder Vikram Chatwal abused the two animals, Molly and Finnegan, on Oct. 7 outside his Wooster Street home in SoHo, police said.
He posted $50,000 bail earlier this week and surrendered his passport after prosecutors said the 44-year-old used a lighter and an aerosol can on the dogs which were being walked outside his home about 11:30 a.m.
"The bottom line is that we strongly and vehemently disagree with the facts that Vikram is charged with and we look forward to presenting our evidence to the prosecutor and are confident that Vikram will be vindicated," his lawyer, Arthur Aidala, said.
"The charges that Vikram would hurt an animal fly in the face of the way he’s lived his life over the last 44 years — not only as being a non-violent and caring human being but also as being the owner of dogs and a lover of animals."
Chatwal owns six dogs "between his several residences," according to Aidala.
According to the New York Daily News, a lawyer present at Chatwal's court date earlier this week — not Aidala — said that Chatwal has a history of mental illness.
Aidala refused to comment on that.
"It would be a violation of all kinds of laws and ethical violations for me to comment on anybody’s mental status," he said.
While Chatwal has been arrested before, Aidala said he has "no history of violence anywhere in his life."
Prosecutors said the Chatwal was heard saying, "The dogs must die," but Aidala denied that.
"We're going to fight these charges to the fullest," Aidala said. "No dogs were ever injured.
"He’s helped horses and various different charities involved in animal care. This is not the kind of guy that’s going to be burning dogs and screaming that dogs must die, and at the end of the day that’s what we intend to show."
Aidala was hazy on what exactly did happen, insisting detailing those events had "to happen in court, not the media."
"That stuff I can't get into," he said.
"We’re saying that no dogs were ever lit on fire by Vikram. The issue is whether anyone’s hair was singed or fur was singed."
Aidala claimed even the prosecutors agree that there was no pain inflicted.
"No dogs were ever hurt. Everyone agrees to that. It’s just a matter of whether their fur was damaged, so that’s the stuff we’re litigating in court," he said.
The Manhattan District Attorney's Office did not immediately respond to an inquiry about Aidala's comments.
Chatwal is due back in court on Dec. 8.