Navy veteran Richard Osthoff choked up while claiming Rep. George Santos scammed him out of money intended to keep his dying service pooch alive ... he says the dog saved his life.
Osthoff recalled his alleged history with the freshman legislator from NY -- who's already fessed up to lying about his work experience and education -- in an interview with CNN, getting emotional as he told his story ... with his late dog's ashes in a box next to him.
The Navy vet says his pooch, Sapphire, saved his life when he was in a dark place after first getting out of the service ... and he's convinced he wouldn't be alive today without the dog.
Osthoff says Santos offered to help get the dog a life-saving medical procedure several years ago ... when Santos was going by his alias, Anthony Devolder ... but says he never saw a dime of the $3,000 Santos raised online.
Instead, Osthoff claims he actually lost money in his dealings with Santos ... another blow to the homeless Navy vet who says he watched his dog die instead of being saved.
For his part, Santos is denying the allegations ... claiming he has dozens of folks who would go on the record saying Santos saved their dogs and cats.
But Osthoff says he won't believe Santos without proof.