Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that 21-year-old Joelier A. Santiago of Buffalo was arraigned yesterday morning before Buffalo City Court Judge Kevin J. Keane on two counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals (Class “E” felonies under Agriculture and Markets Law) and two counts of Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals; Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance (Class “A” misdemeanors under Agriculture and Markets Law).

It is alleged that on Wednesday, December 29, 2021, the defendant intentionally caused serious injuries to two puppies under his care inside of an apartment on Louisiana Street in the City of Buffalo.

One of the dogs, a 2-month-old male Maltese named “Milo,” was unresponsive when he was taken to the Greater Buffalo Veterinary Emergency Clinic before being transferred to the critical care unit at the Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center. A veterinarian determined that “Milo” suffered severe bruising caused by excessive force and non-accidental injury. “Milo” was surrendered to the SPCA Serving Erie County and remains in the custody of a foster caregiver.

The second dog, a 10-month-old female Maltese puppy named “Nala,” died from her injuries. A necropsy determined that the dog died from blunt force trauma caused by excessive force and non-accidental injury.

Santiago is scheduled to return on Wednesday, November 9, 2023 at 9:30 a.m. for a felony hearing. He was released on his own recognizance as the charges are non-qualifying offenses for bail.

Judge Keane issued a temporary order that prevents the defendant from owning or caring for any animals while his criminal case remains pending.

If convicted of the highest charge, Santiago faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

DA Flynn commends SPCA Officer Lindsey M. Wood, SPCA Officer Jasil Ivory, the SPCA Serving Erie County, Greater Buffalo Veterinary Emergency Clinic, Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center and Cornell Animal Health Diagnostic Center Anatomic Pathology Department for their work in this investigation.

“This defendant is accused of intentionally injuring two small puppies under his care. My office will continue to prosecute animal abusers to the fullest extent of the law. I want thank the SPCA for not only their work in this investigation, but also for the work they do every day to help animals in our community,” said District Attorney John Flynn.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Christine M. Garvey of the Animal Cruelty Unit.

As are all persons accused of a crime, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

–Kait Munro, Public Information Officer, Erie County District Attorney’s Office