NORTH ARLINGTON — A woman who filed a lawsuit over the loss of her dog, saying a rescue gave it away while she was hospitalized, has been reunited with her beloved Sasha.

Daria Sawczyn, 72, was hospitalized in February and was assured by "men in uniform" that her purebred Afghan Hound would be taken care of during her hospitalization, describes her lawsuit alleging. When Sawczyn was released and tried contacting the Bergen County Animal Shelter in Teterboro looking for the dog she'd had for nine years, she could not get anyone on the phone, she'd said.

Sawczyn said she called rescue group Halfway Hounds of Park Ridge, which told her the dog was "rescued out" and would not give her any additional information about her dog's whereabouts.

Sawczyn's attorney, Gina A. Calogero, told New Jersey 101.5 that the big mistake was that the shelter accepted a surrender form that was signed by someone else, and not her client.

Daria Sawczyn and her dog Sasha (Gina A. Calogero)

"That's how they had the authority to give the dog to Halfway Hounds. Halfway Hounds didn't know when they received the dog that the shelter really didn't have good title, so they were holding her. I think they had the best interest of the dog in mind, but everybody went a little too far," Calogero  said.

Calogero credited Bergen County, which runs the shelter, as being "extremely helpful" to work out an agreement for Sasha's return.

"They acted like a mediator with Halfway Hounds and did a lot to persuade them to settle the case and get the dog back home. Everybody had to draft releases that would release everyone from liability. No one's going to get paid, nobody owes anybody anything, all the lawsuits and all the claims and counter-claims are dropped," Calogero said.

Calogero said Sasha is well-loved and went to the vet frequently, contrary to concerns by the rescue that Sasha was not well cared for.

"There was no reason not to give the dog back right away," Calogero said.

Calogero said she was in tears at the reunion in the shelter parking lot on Wednesday.

"It was touching and it was wonderful," Calogero said.

In video of their reunion, Sawczyn calls out "Sasha! Mommy's here! Mommy's here!" as the dog trots towards her owner. The dog gets hugs and kisses from Sawczyn, who was thrilled to have her "baby" back.

"I was so thrilled. It was a dream come true," Sawczyn said about Sasha's return.

"She lost about 20 pounds. She's been to the vet three times because she had a 102.4 degree fever when I picked her up," Sawczyn, adding that Sasha had become "clingy" for fear Sawczyn is going to leave her again. "The entire way from the shelter to my apartment she cried and cried from happiness and kissing. It's just so wonderful to have her back I can't explain. She's my baby. People don't understand," Sawczyn said.

"I am so happy she's home," Sawczyn said.

"Bergen County was happy to assist in returning Sasha to its owner," county spokesman Michael Pagan said.

Reunion between Daria Sawczyn and her dog Sasha (Gina A. Calogero)

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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