A Queens dog groomer was hit with animal cruelty charges for allegedly manhandling a pooch during an appointment, causing her death, prosecutors said Thursday.
Lee Yat Sing, 31, was arraigned Wednesday on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals and overdriving, torturing and injuring animals after the 4-year-old Maltese dog died in his care, the Queens District Attorney’s Office said.
Surveillance footage captured Sing “aggressively and inappropriately manipulating” Kele, the seven-pound Maltese, during a grooming appointment at Furry Babies Pet Grooming in Flush on March 2, prosecutors said.
The dog groomer allegedly hit Kele twice with a pair of scissors while restraining her head and neck.
He then grabbed the dog by the head and neck and pulled on her beard, causing the pooch to struggle and fall limp, prosecutors said.
Instead of helping the dog, Sing continued to roughhouse the unresponsive dog for another six minutes, prosecutors alleged.
A necropsy revealed that the dog died from respiratory failure and suffered bruising and pain due to being “forcefully manipulated and restrained,” according to the DA’s office.
“When we entrust our beloved pets to caretakers, they should be returned to us in the same healthy condition,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement.
“Instead, this pet owner learned his dog had cruelly died during a routine grooming service. We will hold the defendant accountable for his actions.”
Sing’s lawyer, Eric Siegle, denied that his client did anything wrong.
“This was a tragic accident which arose simply from our client, a groomer, doing his job, wherein sadly this Maltese, which the forensic veterinarian from the ASCPA determined had a brachycephalic head shape and stenotic nare which increased her susceptibility to respiratory distress and overheating, passed away from basically being blow dried,” Siegle said in a statement Thursday.
“In order for the Government to charge Aggravated Cruelty to Animals a person must ‘intend to cause extreme physical pain or such is done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner,’ which is simply not the case here,” the attorney said.
“We are confident that this charge will be dismissed,” Siegle added.
“As a dog owner of two bulldogs, a breed also with that head shape and shortened nasal passageways, I am extremely saddened for Kele’s owner’s loss, but it did not occur from criminal behavior, and was a tragic, unfortunate accident.”
If convicted, Sing faces up to two years in prison.
His next court appearance is on July 26.