A Manhattan man spent the holiday in jail yesterday after he was charged with beating his 5-month-old puppy to death over the summer. Oleg Zhdanov, 35, was arrested Wednesday at his midtown apartment and charged with felony animal cruelty, said ASPCA Special Agent Joe Pentangelo.

"During this dog's short life, [she] was taken to the vet several times, and each time there were alarming injuries that were consistent with repeated abuse," Pentangelo said.

The 15-pound female lab mix, called Lelu, was beaten again and again from May until her death in early July, Pentangelo charged.

Zhdanov told investigators on July 6 that he had buried her in upstate New York.

"He made statements that led us to believe that he is responsible for the regular beating and ultimate death of his pet," Pentangelo said.

His longtime companion, Tanya Becker, 48, yesterday tearfully denied Zhdanov killed the dog.

"He loved that puppy," she said. "He never touched that puppy. He loved her. How can he beat her?"