Star the Miracle Mutt Leaves State as Ex-Owner Leaves Country

Star, the pit-bull that was shot in the head by a police officer, is still recovering in a secret location. Meanwhile the miracle mutt’s owner, who was passed out when the shooting occurred in August, has returned to Poland, according to a friend.

The Lexus Project — which advocated for Star after video of the incident gained widespread attention — said the persevering pit-bull had left New York and declined to give further information about her whereabouts.

The dog’s custodians, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, said that Star isn’t yet ready to be adopted. When she is, the bar will be very high, according to Charlie Cifarelli, the man who created a Facebook fan page for Star and visited her last week. “It will have to be someone without any animals, someone who understands her condition and most likely someone who lives in the East Coast so if there’s an issue, doctors who are familiar with her can help.”

Meanwhile, Star’s former owner, Lech Stankiewicz, has left the country.

Star, post-opAnimal Care and Control Star in rehab, in August.

The native of Poland returned home just after last month’s Nor’easter, according to Andrea Stella of The Space at Tompkins, a street outreach group that secures Medicaid, IDs, and other resources for the transient, homeless community.

“Star was his love and he really lost it afterwards,” Ms. Stella said. “That’s why he was really pushing to go back after the whole incident.”

According to Ms. Stella, Mr. Stankiewicz has a history of seizures that are made worse with drinking. After the episode shown in the video, Mr. Stankiewicz was taken first to a hospital and then central booking because he had an open container of wine. “It was like adding insult to injury,” she said.

The amount of attention the incident garnered made Mr. Stankiewicz go into hiding, afraid that people would try to hurt him, Ms. Stella said. (Multiple attempts to track him down were unsuccessful.) When he tried to get Star back he was met with more difficulties.

“There were stipulations put on him in order to get her back that he just couldn’t meet,” Ms. Stella said. The stipulations (stop drinking, keep stable housing and get a job) proved daunting for someone who had been homeless for six years and who had an alcohol addiction, said Ms. Stella, who has known Mr. Stankiewicz for six years and worked with him for five.

“It was hard to see all of this support, thousands and thousand of dollars going to the dog. It’s kind of like, what about the human?” she went on. “Obviously his lifestyle is difficult for a lot of people to swallow, but it’s not really chosen; you fall into it.”

Some did offer support, including Mr. Cifarelli. “But it was kind of just unrealistic expectations,” Ms. Stella said. In the end, her organization took Mr. Stankiewicz to the airport so he could return to Poland.

Last week, Mr. Cifarelli took a trip of his own: the native New Yorker, who now lives in Nebraska, traveled 12 hours to see Star. “I’m quit[e] amazed at how well she has recovered,” he told The Examiner. “Her sight seemed good as I played with and her toys she hears noises in the corridor outside her room.”

“I called her name and she gave me this big smile,” Mr. Cifarelli told the Local yesterday. “She’s a wonderful creature.”

One of Star’s eyes is sewn shut, there are a few scars on her left side and her head is not quite the right shape because her skull was cut. Still, she’s doing remarkably well. “She follows her hand, follows the ball; she can listen,” Mr Cifarelli said.

Though the dog’s location is a secret, she’s in the best care, according to Mr. Cifarelli: “She’s never in a cage, she’s walked four times a day, she’s got classical music piped into her room.”

Correction, Dec. 12, 2012: The original version of this post was revised to reflect a correction. Star is not currently up for adoption.