Janis Dardaris was horrified to learn that a man allegedly entered her apartment, killed one of her beloved dogs and left another for dead
Janis Dardaris and her two dogs
Janis Dadaris with Frankie, left, and Alex, right.
| Credit: Janis Dardaris

A New York City-based actress who has appeared in The Sixth Sense and The Sopranos, is suing her dog sitter’s boyfriend for allegedly beating one of her beloved pups to death and nearly killing the other, a new lawsuit states.

Last fall, Janis Dardaris hired a dog sitter to care for her two Maltese dogs, Frankie, 12, and Alex, 11, at her Manhattan apartment for two months while she appeared in a stage production of Murder on the Orient Express in South Carolina.

She wanted to take them with her, but dogs weren't permitted on the trip.

"Alex would kiss me every morning and then go back to Frankie, with whom he was inseparable," she tells PEOPLE.

Deeply attached to the fluffy white dogs she adopted when they were just 12 weeks old and considers her "children," she was hesitant to leave them behind.

"Alex always worried when I left the house," says Dardaris, who frequently checked on them to make sure they were OK.

On Oct. 24, 2019, her worst fears came true when she learned that her sitter’s boyfriend, Vincent Tang, 36, of Brooklyn, allegedly entered her apartment and “savagely beat Alex to death,” according to a lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday, and first reported on by the New York Post.

"I fell apart," says Dardaris, who learned of his death 10 minutes before she had to go onstage. "I wasn't in my right mind. Alex was such an innocent little thing. He had never known evil in his life."

Neither had Frankie, she says. Tang allegedly took the frightened pup to the roof of her building, where he “sadistically tortured (him) for several minutes by punching, throwing, chasing, and kicking the defenseless dog multiple times,” the complaint states.

Tang then allegedly brought Frankie back to Dardaris’ apartment, “where he left him to die,” according to the complaint.

Fate in the form of a caring neighbor intervened in Frankie’s case.

The neighbor, a resident of an adjacent building, had taken cell phone video of a man – who allegedly appears to be Tang – repeatedly kicking a small white dog on the rooftop of Dardaris’ building on Oct. 24, 2019, the complaint states.

“The video shows him chasing this dog around this roof and kicking it like it’s a soccer ball,” Dardaris’ attorney, Robert Cannata, tells PEOPLE. “The dog is cowering in fear.”

The resident notified someone in the building, who notified Dardaris, the complaint says.

Officers who were called to the apartment found Alex's tiny body, covered in blood, and Frankie clinging to life.

One of the officers scooped up Frankie in his arms and rushed him to a nearby animal hospital, where he was treated for two skull fractures, two fractured ribs, and a permanently damaged left eye.

“He was in the hospital at the ASPCA for 16 days,” Cannata says.

On Nov. 12, 2019, Tang was arrested, according to a statement from the New York City Police Department. Six days later, a grand jury indicted Tang, charging him with two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals – a felony with a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

Tang pleaded not guilty and is awaiting his next court date.

His lawyer, Jason Goldman, who is handling Tang’s criminal case, tells PEOPLE, “It’s an open matter. There’s much more to the story than the headline itself.”

Tang’s civil attorney, Cary London, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE’s free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Dardaris is suing Tang for an undetermined amount of money because she says his alleged actions have caused her severe emotional distress, the complaint states.

“At the end of the day, we want answers and we also want justice," Cannata says. "We want him to have to compensate her for the tremendous pain and suffering he has put her through to this point and that she continues to experience."

The pain and the terror her dogs endured still haunt her to this day, she says.

"It's first thought in my head every single morning," she says.

"You're not the same after something like this. It's just so horrific."