TUNICA, MS (abc24.com) - It's a case of animal abuse so atrocious, not just because of the condition of the animal, but because it could have been prevented. A Tunica dog was recently rescued, found starving, living in full view of a neighborhood and people who did nothing to help. He was so hungry, vets say he was eating rocks just to stay alive.
The dog hadn't been fed in months. He's a year and a half old, but he weighs slightly more than a puppy .
"He is the most emaciated that I have ever seen in a pet that was living," says Dr. Pam Chandler with the Central Animal Hospital.
Joey is 23 pounds of bones. A dog his age and size usually weighs 40 pounds or more.
"I've rescued many dogs, but I've never picked up a dog that there was nothing left of him. And he is still fighting to live," says Tunica shelter director Sandy Williams. She found Joey last Saturday, covered in bite marks and abscessed infections, with his ribs poking out.
A vet initially diagnosed him with extreme starvation. When his body started failing on Tuesday, Joey was rushed to Dr. Chandler. "He was not able to stand very well and he had severe diarrhea," she says.
Surgery showed why. "They removed 14 or 15 large rocks from his colon and stomach area," says Williams. "The little dog had just been surviving eating rocks."
But the dog wasn't somewhere isolated and alone, but in a Tunica neighborhood. "Where houses are close together and people everywhere in the yards, in the streets," says Williams. "I was told when I picked him up that his owner had been in jail for several months, but how can a community turn their back on a little dog like this?"
No outside signs make Joey particularly special. He's a typical hound mix with lanky legs, floppy ears and a sweet face. It's what's inside that's sets him apart.
"He has just got one strong will to live. Probably more than any patient I've ever treated in 20 years," Chandler tells abc24.com.
"Through all of this he just keeps hanging on," Williams adds.
Joey has a long fight ahead. He can't eat full meals yet. Food is being slowly introduced to his diet. Doctors say it will be a few days before they can even tell how much is wrong with him. Just this morning they discovered his pelvis is also broken.
As you can imagine vet bills are extensive. The Central Animal Hospital has started a collection for his care. You can donate by calling (901) 274-1444.