TUNICA, MS (abc24.com) - He could be the poster child for animal cruelty. Joey was found starving in Tunica, Mississippi. He was so hungry he ate rocks in the middle of a crowded neighborhood, ignored and starving until his rescue.
The Tunica Sheriff's Department is now involved. They've launched a criminal investigation into what happened to Joey.
Deputies are trying to find his owner. They've gone door to door in the neighborhood where he was rescued. Investigators haven't had any luck, but they aren't quitting.
Meanwhile, now that Joey is in good hands, he's improving by leaps and bounds.
"We have created a wonderful monster. Joey thinks he should be the center of attention at all times," says Dr. Jennifer Karnes at the Central Animal Hospital.
He often is. Joey is surrounded by loving vets. Now that he's no longer starved and ignored, he's thriving. He has gained two pounds.
While his ribs still show, they're not hollowed out like they were. Last week, Joey could barely hold his head up. Now, "he loves to be in people's laps," Karnes says. "He doesn't understand when he is put in his cage why he is there."
Joey is being treated by an internal specialist. Vets have to walk him eight times a day. It will be weeks before they know if he'll suffer long term damage from the rocks he ate.
If the Tunica Sheriff's Department can track down Joey's owner, he'll be charged with animal cruelty; that includes a fine and jail time.
Though Joey's tough times are behind him, he still has a fight.
"But right now he is making such wonderful strides that he is going to be able to get to that point to have those issues addressed. We were not sure he was even going to make it to that point a week ago," adds Karnes.
Joey will be at the vet for at least another month.
The Tunica Humane Society is hearing from dozens of people interested in adopting him. They're calling from Colorado, Boston, Florida and all over the Mid-South.
The shelter is going to wait on making a decision about his next home until it knows what type of care Joey will need.
If you'd like to help cover his vet bills, you can call the Central Animal Hospital at (901) 274-1444.