How Did Star the Pit Bull Become Shiloh?


Earlier this week we discovered that Star, the wonder dog that survived a police shooting, was given a new identity. But why?

We called the National Greyhound Adoption Program to ask whether Shiloh, a dog it had listed for adoption, was really Star. “I don’t know,” said Bobbie Gunning, an adoption coordinator there.

But after a minute of conversation, she admitted she knew Shiloh’s heart-wrenching story. “I just don’t tell people when they call,” she said. “It’s supposed to be a secret.” She said she didn’t know why there was a need for secrecy, but thought it was to protect the dog.

As footage of Star’s shooting on East 14th Street went viral last summer, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and the Lexus Project took custody of her. She was then turned over to the National Greyhound Adoption Program.

Robin Mittasch, president of the Lexus Project, said that’s when she became Shiloh. “Her name was changed in Pennsylvania so even the staff wouldn’t know who she was and they didn’t.”

A Facebook message from the the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals explains the name change: “We didn’t disclose her location and NGAP changed her name in order to give her the peace and quiet she needed to recover and to spare NGAP staff the distraction of well-meaning, yet time-consuming, inquiries or attempted visits.” The Alliance said it chose the NGAP, in Philadelphia, because it had “the very best facilities and care for a dog in Star’s condition.”

After discovering that the dog had been taken to Pennsylvania, Charlie Cifarelli, who started a Facebook page dedicated to Star, flew out to visit her.

Mr. Cifarelli has his own theory about the “cloud of secrecy” surrounding Star. “August 2012 was a bad month for the NYPD,” he said during a phone conversation on Wednesday. “They accidentally shot nine innocent bystanders at the Empire State Building. They wanted this story to disappear.”

On Facebook, Mr. Cifarelli wrote that Star has “classical music piped into her room at 5 p.m. each day for relaxation and to reduce stress and promote healing.”

Star, post-opAnimal Care and Control Star last year.

The road to recovery has not been an easy one. When Star first arrived at the kennel in Pennsylvania, she was emotionally traumatized. “At the beginning, she would just sit in the yard and not move,” Ms. Gunning said. “When people would meet her for the first time, she would start shaking because she was so afraid.”

The pit bull has come a long way since then. She can now play fetch in the yard and enjoys walks with her regular dog-walkers. “Most people she responds well to after she gets to know them,” Ms. Gunning said. Star can socialize with some of the greyhounds at the kennel, but she still does not react well to most small dogs.

“She is such a sweet dog,” Ms. Gunning gushed. She reiterated that there are strict requirements for anyone interested in adopting Star, or Shiloh. “They would have to come out and get to know her,” she said, later adding, “She needs to trust them.”

The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, which turned over $930 in donations to the National Greyhound Adoption Program, said in its Facebook posting that “NGAP and the Alliance will decide together on an adoptive home for Star/Shiloh. Because of her injuries and personality, her needs are very specific, and this application and screening process may take time.”

Editor’s Note: the original version of this post was revised to include comments from the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.