Dog shot in the face by NYPD cop gets second chance at life

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- It’s the video that’s hard to watch for just about anyone. On August 13, 2012, a pit bull named Star was left scrambling after its owner, a homeless man, suffered a seizure on an East Village sidewalk.

Confused, the pit lunged at an NYPD officer and was shot in the face. The shocking and disturbing incident was captured on video and splashed across the YouTube.

Suffering severe head trauma, Star lost her left eye but miraculously survived. Weeks after the shooting however, Star’s whereabouts became unknown - until now.

In what could be best described as an incredible recovery, Star fought for survival eventually resurfacing 1,500 miles away from the New York in Nebraska.

She got there after native-New Yorker Charlie Cifarelli adopted her, following tireless months of legwork.

“I watched the dog get shot. I was like a kid, I saw the video over and over again,” Cifarelli told PIX11 News in a phone interview Tuesday.

“I was traumatized man, I’m not faint of heart but it just rocked me.”

The same images that shocked many, motivated Cifarelli. After jumping through countless hoops and red tape with the city’s Animal Care and Control, he finally got some results when the Mayor’s Alliance set up a date between Cifarelli and Star at the National Greyhound Adoption Program in Pennsylvania.

“I was finally meeting this dog that was described as a Tyrannosaurus-Rex,” he recalled. “The dog was friendly. The dog was actually pretty shy.”

The meeting which happened in December of 2012 wasn’t their last. Weeks later, Star went up for adoption and Cifarelli – although hesitant at first – took action.

“I rented a minivan, the first and only time in my life. I drove all the way from Nebraska to Philadelphia and picked up Star and she became a part of our family.”

The one thing Cifarelli hopes people take from his story he said, “Don’t have an off button.”

“These kids that are growing up today need to know if they see something that they don’t like, they need to do something about it and they need to follow through.”

For more on Star and her road to recovery, visit her Facebook page.

12 comments

  • Vanessa

    What happened to the owner of the dog did he die?WTF they shot the poor guys dog than sold him up for adoption great geez ..the not even saying if the poor guy lived or not just the dog SMH telling you ,people care more about pets and things than other people .HUMANITY IS LOST

    • chrisg

      the original owner officially gave up custody to animal control so she could be treated. from what i’ve heard, he has since returned to his native Poland. Charlie (Star’s adopter) actually reached out to him first, even offering him a job in Nebaraska, but i guess he decided to go elsewhere.

  • A. Winston

    Dog was just seeking help. But for all of the negative untrue blown out of proportion media stories. Anyone who sees what they believe to be a pitbull, which is just a dog – too many of you are too quick to accept and discriminate against any one and any thing, you’re basically told to flail your arms and scream. They probably treated the poor guy just as bad as the dog. Unfortunately, there have been many times of pitbulls seeking help, only to be met with resistance or violence. At least there is one happy ending here. Do journalist even research anymore!?! What happened to the dogs original owner?

  • Sarah

    The pit bull was charging people before it went after the cop. It may have been upset and confused by the owner’s unexpected collapse, but its response to that confusion was abnormal aggression toward people who were not threatening the owner or the dog. It delayed help for the man, and was absolutely about to bite the cop when it was shot. Tragic story, but the dog should have been euthanized, not passed around like a trophy by animal rescue groups and passed on to a guy who’s turned on by the video of it being shot. “I watched the dog get shot. I was like a kid, I saw the video over and over again.” Doesn’t anyone else find this creepy? Who wants to watch a dog get shot over and over again? Who wants to adopt a dog that’s been shot in the head and blinded, was aggressive to start with, and which even the rescue that handled it admitted was dangerous to other dogs? Cifarelli seems to be seeking celebrity.

    • Jim Stewart

      Sarah – When Did Cifarelli say “I was like a kid, I saw the video over and over again?” You forgot to mention the nice officer used his feet to try and jar the man awake as it was beneath him to check for a pulse, hence creating the arena for a bad outcome. The dog was protecting its owner – would you want the same? Your statement about who would want to adopt a dog that’s been shot in the head and blinded – that’s why there are numerous dogs killed everyday by the NYC ACC….people like you who can not get over yourself and think you are better than everyone else. You don’t happen to be related to the shooter, are you? Star looked didn’t look very aggressive playing with the little white dog in the snow.

    • Samantha Rhodes

      Sarah… You are astoundingly cruel, ignorant, and I pray that you never are in a position of authority to determine anyone’s life. I also pray that you don’t have children or baby sit anything living, including plants. Given your consciousness, you are a potential harm to society.

    • Liz Berger

      Sarah! Your comment proves how Narcissistic you are and proves you have lost touch with reality! Nuff said! People like are the MOST Dangerous and People like you are ALL That’s wrong with this world!

    • curtisfiftycent

      Sarah,
      With all due respect your conclusions about the pit bull charging and your assertions of the abnormal aggression are ill considered, ridiculous and flat out risible. For some inexplicable reason, you read and interpreted things in this very nice human / animal piece and (due to the psychosis you are burdened with) you take a positive story and discredit it with no foundation in fact.

      I must acknowledge your consistency in your pedestrian online writing skills. Indeed, you wish ill will on humans as well as animals like this courageous dog. The only thing creepy about this is your ignorant, jealous and obtuse public comment that would be embarrassing if you were not clearly depressed, psychotic, jealous, and borderline evil. Nothing would have made you happier than if Star would have died along with having Mr.Cifarelli get shot too. Can you summon up your compromised writing skills to even rebut what I said?

      With all due respect you need to seek qualified professional medical counseling and get on some legally prescribed benzodiazepines ( or what is legally prescribed) for your borderline personality disorder and your related behavioral /cognitive complex of disorders.

      Your life as a third rate smear artist for genuine human interest stories like Star the Pit Bull has no place in a decent world.

      Earnestly,
      Gavin McWilliams

    • Peter Jacobs

      WHERE DID CIFFARELLI SAY HE WATCHED THE TAPE OVER & OVER AGAIN LIKE A KID??? YOU ARE A LIAR WITH AN AGENDA BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT AN OUTSIDER TO THE STORY YOU ARE STICKING UP FOR THE SHOOTER BECAUSE OF YOUR CONNECTION > DID YOU SEE THE TREATMENT HE GAVE THE HOMELESS MAN PRIOR TO SHOOTING HIS DOG?? THE WITNESS STATEMENTS OF EARLY PRESS REPORTS ARE ALL THERE ONLINE TO READ > THE POLICE KICKED THE MAN WHICH ANGERED THE DOG> WHERE WAS THE HELP FOR THE MAN SARAH AFTER THE DOG WAS SHOT?? DON’T MAKE THIS STORY ABOUT CIFFARELLI IT’S STAR’S STORY AND THE CRUEL INHUMANE WAY SHE & HER OWNER WHERE HANDLED BY PAID SERVANT’S INCLUDING THE EMT’S.

  • Kathy Collins Ives

    Sarah, I can certainly tell by your biased post that you are NOT a animal lover, let alone ever known the love of one.. To euthanize Star !?! Anyone with a sense of love and caring would do anything possible to save her and thank GOD they did.

    Did you bother to watch some of the videos on how the police and medics treated her owner? They kicked him and left him lay in the street then medics came and picked him up like city trash by his arms and legs. Not even using a back board!! I know people who have seizures and if they were to have one on street pavement it could mean head and back injuries. But, these worthless people who are supposed to protect us treated him like crap. They were more interested in trying to murder, Star. Who was only protecting her master from harm. A dogs love is never ending!! They would die to protect their owner, the person they love more than themselves. And Star almost did perish due to the fast, unthinking actions of NYC Cops.

    As for Charlie Cifarell adopting Star. I have done adoption processing for over 10 yrs and any rescue always looks out for the best interest of the animal. Checking past vet care on other animals that person has or had and checking references. Star is at the best home possible with people who love her as much as she loves him. I suggest you do more than shoot off your big mouth and take the time to read back to day one when Star almost died protecting her owner, She never went for that cop….. but he sure did want her to die. Praise the Lord, she pulled through and was able to go and live with Charlie and Jen and the other dogs. She doesn’t have one mean bone in here body. Yes, all dogs are always temperament tested to before being placed in a home and Star passed with flying colors.

    You are sick to think euthanize her and right off the bat. Your words say tons of your character.. you have ZERO. I totally agree with Samantha.. you madam are a threat to any living creature, 2 legged or 4 legged. Did you torture animals as a child? I also hope you have no children, pets or vegetation,

    Maybe you need to know more about Charlie too and he is far from wanting to be a celebrity. You dear, have missed the point of his stories and posts. He wants the cops to think before they shoot and it is happening way to much to humans and animals. Maybe you don’t read the news over all the cops out of control. Funny, isn’t it, that UPS, FedEX, water, gas and electric readers, mailmen and on and on come across more dogs in one day than most cops do in months but yet they don’t have to carry a gun!!! There are many other ways to control a loose dog than to shoot it in the head, Check out this page on face book and educate yourself on the good ole boy cops we have in this country.

    https://www.facebook.com/Mr.PolicemanDontShootMyDog

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