Things weren't looking good for Sadie.
For 11 months she sat in a cement cell at the North Haven Animal Shelter, where Hamden rents space for its stray dogs. For those 11 months she waited for someone to come along and notice her and want to take her home.
Every few months I posted Sadie on Hamden Patch, and on Facebook and Twitter, hoping someone would see something in the eyes of the all-black pit mix and want to take her home.
But no one did.
Sadie was a tough case. Black dogs often are. For some reason, black dogs—and cats—can be very hard to adopt out due to "black dog syndrome". In addition to that, Sadie was thought to be dog agressive, limiting even further her potential homes to those without other dogs in them.
So for 11 months Sadie's name and description remained on the Hamden Animal Shelter's Petfinder page.
Then this week word came down from above that gave Hamden animal control officers permission to kill her. It had been too long, and the prospect that she would get adopted was too dim. Her time was up.
In a last desperate attempt, I posted Sadie's picture and information on every dog rescue Facebook page I could find. I posted her over and over for two weeks. I was afraid some pages would toss me off for over posting, but I didn't care. I had to do something.
And then up stepped Charlie Cifarelli, and suddenly Sadie had a future.
Cifarelli saw Sadie on Facebook.
"I kept seeing people posting that Sadie needed a home, I kept seeing that no one was helping her," he said. "I said to myself, I have the means and the place—why don't I help her.
"I went from posting about her to asking about her," he said.
It took a few days to connect with Hamden animal control officers, Cifarelli said, but finally on Thursday he got a call back from Hamden ACO Steve Gimler, and arrangements were made.
And then Cifarelli began driving. And driving. And driving.
You see, Cifarelli lives in Nebraska. And after all Sadie has been through, he says he's not about to trust anyone else to transport her to her new home.
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Cifarelli runs the Facebook page Star - The New York Pitbull Shot By Police, dedicated to a pit bull shot while trying to defend her drug-addicted owner from cops.
Star was seriously injured but survived, was treated and is now in a new home. Her former owner disappeared, and Cifarelli tried to find him to offer him help.
Being from New York, that story touched him, he said, and prompted him to set up his page. It was on that page that someone posted Sadie.
After seeing her languishing with no one stepping forward to save her, Cifarelli made the call to Hamden Animal Control to inquire about her. But it took several days to connect with anyone there, and in that time no one knew if Sadie was still alive or if she had already been put to sleep.
"I told them that I worked in the Department of Correction and I had a 10 year stellar record and I'm an animal rights person and can handle them," he said. "I have a huge backyard with high walls and plenty of time to decompress her, and he was receptive."
That, despite the fact that almost 2,000 miles separated Cifarelli from the shelter where Sadie was staying. Normally long-distance adoptions are frowned upon, but Gimler said he made an exception in this case both because of the Cifarelli's experience with dogs in Sadie's situation, his ability to provide her with an appropriate home and his willingness to drive himself to pick her up.
While there are rescue transports that for a fee could have brought Sadie home, he wasn't going to take any chances that anything could go wrong, Cifarelli said.
He set out at 5 a.m. Friday morning for Connecticut and arrived here Saturday. By then Sadie had been pulled from the shelter by Angel Capone Pitbull Rescue and taken to a vet, where she was checked out and given a bath and prepared to meet her new father, which finally happened Saturday afternoon, when he picked her up and started the trip back to Nebraska.
"She's going to think she hit the Power ball when she gets home," Cifarelli said.