SENATOBIA, Miss — It is a story that is tugging on the heartstrings of people across North Mississippi.
A 17-year-old boy experiencing homelessness and living under a bridge decided to give up his dog when he could no longer support her.
Senatobia Tate Interim Animal Shelter Director Kris Robinson said that she has had a lot of dogs taken in by the shelter, but none with a story quite like Jada and the 17-year-old who brought her in.
“My heart broke for him. He was clearly saddened by having to bring his dog up here,” Robinson said.
A picture of Jada laying on the floor at the Senatobia Tate Animal Shelter went viral on social media. She collapsed in sadness after her owner left. The 17-year-old boy told Robinson he had been living under a bridge experiencing homelessness and could not afford to take care of the four-month-old Rottweiler/shepherd mix.
“She was kind of clinging to him around his legs. Every time he would move, she would move. She has bonded with him. He has had her since she was little,” Robinson said.
Robinson said Jada will be fostered for now. Law enforcement is looking into the case, and there have been plenty of offers to help the 17-year-old and Jada; many of them coming from around the country.
“There were some offers from people that would house him and he could bring the dog with him and find him a job. So, if he is willing to do that, there is help out there,” Robinson said.
Robinson said she admires the young man for surrendering his dog.
”I think that boy has a lot more integrity than a lot of people around here who dump animals and puppies when they can’t take care of them,” Robinson said.
FOX13′s Mississippi reporter Tom Dees tried to track the boy down, but could not find him. So, what resources are there if you’re experiencing homelessness in a rural community like this?
More than 1,000 Mississippians experienced homelessness in 2020. That’s according to the US Interagency on Homelessness. More than 50 young adults went homeless in the Magnolia State in 2020, like the 17-year-old we told you about in Senatobia just now.
What we found out is, in Senatobia, when it comes to helping the homeless, the churches play a big role.
”Most of the times, the request is to get them off the street for a night or a couple of nights if it is real cold especially. The big problem is in towns like Senatobia is we don’t have the big services where we can recommend them like shelters and that kind of thing,” Pastor Keith Keaton said.
Keaton, with First United Methodist Church in Senatobia, said the Methodist Church, Baptist Church and Presbyterian Church fill in the gaps locally.
”We have a ministerial alliance where we pull together resources and talk to each other about how to facilitate help,” Pastor Keaton said.
He said many looking for help naturally come by the church.
”Usually, in a town like Senatobia, folks will come by the church looking for assistance. Trying to figure out where they can stay for the night,” Keaton said.
Keaton said that the help doesn’t just stop with temporary shelter.
”We try to get them something to eat, and if they have a vehicle and need gas to get somewhere else we will provide them gas as well. For the most part, we are a short-term solution for a long-term problem,” Keaton said.
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