AUG. 30 UPDATE: Star had surgery earlier this week to remove her left eye, according to an update by New York City Animal Care & Control on its Facebook page: “Vets also removed some metallic fragments lodged in and around that area. Star had suffered soft tissue, bone, neurological and eye damage as a result of her wounds. … She suffered a significant degree of hearing loss, but her hearing is coming back and the vision in her right eye also seems to be improving.”
Star is able to walk, eat and play with toys. She is being transferred to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals today and eventually will be put up for adoption.
When Lech Stankiewicz, a homeless man who along with his Pit Bull mix, Star, was a longtime fixture in Manhattan’s East Village, suffered a seizure and lost consciousness on the afternoon of Aug. 13, Star did what any loyal dog would do: she guarded her owner.
“I saw an elderly woman approach the dog, and heard police requesting that she keep her distance,” a witness commented on The Observer. “She continued, and the dog approached her and bit her leg. I do not think that it was being hostile, but it was clearly biting her … This is when the dog turned to the police and approached them. I can’t really blame the dog, because it’s a dog and had no clue what was going to happen.”
When Star lunged at the officers, one of them shot her in the head and another sprayed mace in her face. The shooting was captured in a video taken by a bystander.
Eddie Huang, a celebrity chef and owner of the nearby Baohaus restaurant, tweeted, “Pig shot a dog and let it die slow.” He told The Observer that Star was “whipping around and convulsing,” and people were yelling at the officers to put her out of her misery.
“Fortunately, Star’s medical status is improving,” Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C) spokesman Richard Gentles wrote in an email to DNAinfo.com Saturday.
AC&C has posted photos of Star that were allegedly taken recently on its Facebook page. The close-ups of her face show no visible gunshot wound, which seems unusual for a dog shot in the head at point-blank range.
In a comment on the photo yesterday, the AC&C wrote, “Most of Star’s injuries were contained inside her mouth. She is going to have surgery on Tuesday, and it is likely one of her eyes will need to be removed.”
Star’s nearly $10,000 veterinary bill is being paid through AC&C’s Special Treatment and Recovery fund – which is, appropriately enough, known as S.T.A.R. “She would not have been able to survive her injuries without it,” Gentles wrote.
Commenters on the AC&C Facebook page who donated to the fund are asking to see a video or more pictures of Star. Some are concerned about a cover-up by the AC&C, not unlike the Belfast City Council’s cover-up of the whereabouts of Lennox, a “Pit Bull type” dog. His family was not allowed to see him before he was put to death last month, leading to speculation that he had actually been killed months earlier.
Stankiewicz, Star’s dog dad, has also not been seen since the shooting incident. Since he did not claim his dog as of last Friday, Star’s legal ownership has been transferred to AC&C.
When she recovers, Gentles said Star will be turned over to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a coalition of shelters and rescue groups that finds furever homes for unwanted animals through its New Hope program.