Shelter Gave Hospitalized Woman’s Afghan Hound Away

When their people are in the hospital, what happens to the dogs left behind? This is actually a pretty complicated issue. Should the county shelter rehome the dog with someone able to take care of it, or is that their choice to make at all? A new lawsuit addresses this conundrum.

In February, 72-year-old New Jersey resident Daria Sawczyn became extremely ill. She called 9-1-1 and an ambulance came to take her from her apartment to St. Mary’s Hospital in Paterson. As she was departing for the hospital, authorities took Sasha, Sawczyn’s purebred Afghan Hound, out on a leash. The officers reportedly “assured her that the dog would be kept safe for at least 30 days until she recovered.”

That’s not exactly how it went down. Sawczyn has since filed a lawsuit against Bergen County Animal Shelter. The suit, filed last week in Bergen County Superior Court, alleges that the Bergen County Animal Shelter gave Sasha to Halfway Hounds of Park Ridge, a local rescue group. The organization wouldn’t tell Sawczyn Sasha’s whereabouts. The lawsuit states:

“Daria was told that Sasha had been ‘rescued out’ two weeks prior. They refused to tell her to whom the dog was released or where the dog was.”

An Afghan Hound, via Wikimedia Commons. Sasha not pictured.

Was The Shelter Right To Transfer Sasha?

After she was discharged from the hospital, Sawczyn went to a different healthcare facility for physical therapy. In that time, the county animal shelter turned Sasha over to Halfway Hounds, a local rescue group.

When Sawczyn finally left the medical center, she couldn’t find her dog. The animal shelter reported that they tried to contact her during her treatment but she didn’t answer her phone. Sawczyn’s phone was in her apartment the whole time.

Sawczyn’s lawyer, Gina A. Calogero, argues that the shelter should never have given the dog to Halfway Hounds. Reportedly, a volunteer at Halfway Hounds told Sawczyn that due to her health problems, Sasha might just be better off with another owner.

“Their job is to place homeless animals. This animal isn’t homeless. They are not doggy DYFS.”

In reply, the shelter issued a statement through Bergen County spokesman Michael Pagan.

“Sasha’s owner gave Sasha to the BCAS at a time when she unfortunately was unable to care for the dog. The BCAS placed Sasha for adoption with a reputable agency. The county no longer has custody or control of Sasha and is not preventing the return of Sasha to the owner. The county sincerely hopes that the matter will be resolved quickly and amicably.”

Sawczyn had Sasha for almost nine years. She loves Sasha so much and just wants to have her home with her.

“Sasha is a beautiful, unique and special dog, registered with the American Kennel Club as a purebred. [She] is intelligent, affectionate and gentle, and is very attached to Daria. Sasha sleeps in Daria’s bed and Daria sings her to sleep with a lullaby every night.”

Hopefully, the two will be reunited very soon.

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons

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