Hi everybody! My name is Star! And until August 13, 2012, I lived a life of obscurity.
I was regularly seen around a certain spot with my homeless human in one of the busiest, most pedestrian cities in the world: New York City. But no one paid much attention to us; homeless people with their homeless dogs are much too plentiful.
There was nothing that wasn’t “normal” about the two of us; we were virtually invisible in plain sight. But we had each other.
On that fateful day, my human had a seizure right on a curb near Union Square. I was so confused and scared for him! I stood guard by him and I barked and barked. I needed to protect him and keep him safe! People don’t understand us dogs too well and may have thought I was going after them, but I was just protecting my human!
Then the police arrived…and they just stood there!
They seemed scared of me. They didn’t realize I was scared too! There were a lot of people gathering. If I wanted to be vicious, there were plenty of people I could have bitten. But I didn’t; all I wanted to do is keep my human safe.
One woman came close to us and I charged at her to keep her away. I ran back to my human and stood guard by him again. And then all hell broke loose.
I saw the policeman coming close so I ran to him to keep him away, and he shot me! Not far from the head of my human! He could have hit my seizing human!
But omigosh, I was in sudden pain! So much pain. The life blood was draining from my head, I couldn’t see. Like my human, I was laying on a NYC street and the police didn’t care. I was even pepper-sprayed while I writhed in pain.
Someone took a video of the whole incident, and it was seen by millions. The video was graphic and it made a lot of people mad at the police officers, and sad for me.
My life seemed to end; the world turned dark as I worried about my human.
Miraculously, I survived the point-blank shot. I wasn’t expected to live; the NYC Police said I didn’t, although the Gothamist updated that I survived!
I woke in a kennel at NYC Animal Care & Control. I had surgeries, I lost my eye and my hearing was messed up. But my human could not come for me. He knew he couldn’t take care of me anymore and was trying to do the right thing by me. But NYC authority was being very secretive.
The Lexus Project — which advocated for me after the video gained widespread attention — said I had left New York, bound for a rehabilitation facility “where she can rest and be pampered on until she goes for her behavior assessment. From there, she will be placed into her forever home.”
I actually went to a greyhound rescue in PA, of all places. The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals said that I wasn’t yet ready to be adopted, although they did say that was their plan after I recovered. Besides that, everything about me was very hush hush.
So I spent months in that hidden spot, not knowing what would happen to me.
What I didn’t know was I had an honest-to-goodness Guardian Angel! Someone who saw the video of my being shot while trying to get help for my human. A kind man many, many miles away — in 1,500 miles to be exact, in Lincoln, Nebraska — who couldn’t get the image of my body and blood on that NYC street out of his mind.
He immediately began a Facebook page for me. I’m not the only dog to be shot by what can only be considered scared men in uniforms with guns but that video hit home to many. A lot of people quickly found my page and were up in arms about my shooting and voiced this on the page threads.
But to my Guardian Angel, my story touched the deepest part of his heart. He admitted that he was traumatized. He was not faint at heart but the video of me being shot just rocked him.
So he began the search to find out where I was so he could bring me home to live with him!
He is not a man easily dissuaded or ignored. He went through all the channels and then some to find me. And he found me!
After jumping through countless hoops and red tape with Animal Care & Control, he finally got some results. The Mayor’s Alliance set up a date between him and me at the National Greyhound Adoption Program in Pennsylvania.
The meeting happened in December of 2012. My Dad said it was surreal as he would go through several doors, a long corridor and a steel door along with a gate. The lights were dim. He was a guest in this facility which treats animals with care, the way that all animals should live. It was quiet with classical music being played.
And then he entered my large 20 x 20 room and saw me. And he said, “Hey Star Girl. It’s me, Charlie.”
And I sat up and gave him that look with a wide smile – he called it my trademark look. The lights were turned on for us and he hugged me for what seemed like an eternity. He told me that he hugged me for not just him but the whole world.
He then talked to me and hugged me over and over again. And I was filled with the most love.
The next day he came back, and we just hung out. There were lots of belly rubs, hugs and kisses. Oh, I loved it!! I love him!! And then it was time for him to leave. He hugged me and walked away.
I didn’t know if he was going to come back. I also didn’t know that he cried inside because saying good bye to me was one of the hardest things that he had to do.
And he vowed to make me a part of his life.
It took months for him to convince the authorities to let him adopt me. And that finally happened in April 2013! My dad rented a minivan — the first time in his life — and drove all the way from Nebraska to Philadelphia and picked up me. And we became family.
Oh and boy, do I love my life! I love to travel by car, I love to give hugs, and I’m always happy — you can see that I have the biggest tongue. And I love making friends wherever I go!
I am the same Star who was a loyal companion to my homeless human, the happy dog who loves everyone — humans and dogs alike.
What happened to me on that August day two years ago is a scary wake-up call. And if that happened to me, then there could be other dogs suffering this same deal because most likely nothing was done about my trigger-happy uniformed shooter!
Was I shot because I’m a pitbull mix? If I were a fluffy dog, would I have been met with a bullet from a cop if they were in my situation? And about that pepper-spray: it wasn’t pleasant, but why didn’t that officer use it instead of shooting me in the head in the first place?
With Dad by my side, I am a Voice against police shooting dogs just because they can. But it’s not only a voice! I have an Army! Yes! Star’s Army, and we Crusade Against Puppycide! It has to stop!
Join us at Star – The New York Pit Bull Shot By Police.
And thank you for reading my story!
p.s. My Dad did reach out to my first human, Lech, wanting to help but the stress of the ordeal on that NYC street was too much for him. He is a private person who was filmed for 10 minutes having a seizure on the sidewalk. He just wanted to return home to Poland and leave what happened to both of us in his past.
I was his love and he was heartbroken for me, but he went home knowing I was a true survivor, that I am safe and I have someone who love me as much as he does.