A Woodside man has been charged with aggravated cruelty to an animal after allegedly killing a Shih Tzu last month belonging to his girlfriend and her family, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Brando Henriquez, 23, of Woodside, was arraigned Aug. 3 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Ushir Pandit Durant on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals, torturing and injuring animals. Bail was set at $10,000 bond ($7,000 cash).
“The defendant is accused of aggravated cruelty to animals for brutally killing a small helpless dog and heartlessly offering false hope to his girlfriend and family by making them think that the dog had just run away,” Brown said. “Such acts of aggression toward defenseless animals cannot — and will not — be tolerated in Queens County.”
According to the criminal complaint, Henriquez’s girlfriend left her Broad Channel residence July 15 in the late afternoon, leaving Lavonia, her black and white Shih Tzu, alone in the single-family residence. When she returned after about 30 minutes, Henriquez was alone in the residence and claimed that he did not know what happened to the dog and suggested that the dog ran out and escaped, according to Brown.
After four days of searching and putting up lost dog posters, the mother and brother of the defendant’s girlfriend discovered the dog’s remains July 19. The dog had been placed in a white plastic garbage bag and disposed of at a parking lot several blocks east of her owner’s residence, Brown said.
The complaint said police secured surveillance footage from several locations along the route, which showed Henriquez leaving his girlfriend’s residence with a white plastic bag containing a lump shortly after she had left. Additional footage revealed Henriquez crouching down behind a garbage can as a passerby walks by him. He then proceeded to run down the block in an easterly direction, still holding the white bag, which his girlfriend recognized as the type and brand she had purchased.
Brown said the girlfriend received two voice mails — one on July 20 and one on July 21 — from Henriquez in which he stated, “I’m so sorry, I’m sorry,” and “I’m sorry about the dog.”
On Aug. 2, Henriquez allegedly called his mother and said the dog pooped and that he performed CPR on the dog in the bathtub, according to Brown.
A necropsy performed by an ASPCA forensic veterinarian revealed that the 2-1/2-year-old animal had four rib fractures due to blunt force trauma. There was no evidence of healing to the fractures, indicating that they occurred shortly before or after death, according to the complaint.
Henriquez’s next court appearance was scheduled for Aug. 22. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison.