Man accused of secretly beating, burning girlfriend's cat

Giovanni Santiago, 20, is facing felony charges for allegedly harming the cat in

Giovanni Santiago, 20, is facing felony charges for allegedly harming the cat in "truly despicable and depraved acts of animal cruelty," according to a press release by Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas. (Photo: Handout/DA's Office) (4/14/17)

UNIONDALE - A woman thought her cat was battling an auto-immune disease, but her Uniondale boyfriend was secretly injuring and torturing the pet, according to prosecutors.

Giovanni Santiago, 20, is facing felony charges for allegedly harming the cat in "truly despicable and depraved acts of animal cruelty," according to a press release by Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.

Santiago allegedly injured the cat, named Verona, over several months late last year. The pet suffered multiple fractures to her tail vertebrae, broken teeth, facial swelling, abdominal and pelvic bruising, small puncture wounds, scabbing and loss of fur.

Santiago's girlfriend took the cat to Long Island Animal Hospital multiple times for treatment, and a veterinarian contacted the District Attorney's Animal Crimes Unit in December.

Investigators determined that Santiago was "regularly alone with the cat" and had his own key to his girlfriend's apartment. The girlfriend was not aware that Santiago was allegedly injuring her pet, and she believed the cat had an auto-immune disease, the DA's office says.

Verona racked up a vet bill totaling more than $2,800 for treatments, and she suffered permanent tail disfigurement and scarring.

The cat is now in the care of the North Shore Animal League and will be placed under adoption after she recovers.

Santiago is charged with second-degree criminal mischief, a felony, aggravated cruelty to animals, also a felony, and torturing/injuring animals, a misdemeanor.

He has been ordered not to have contact with any animal and could face 2-7 years in prison if convicted on the top count.

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