FeFe had mournful but friendly eyes the first time Ashley Johnson saw her, staring out from a kennel at the Humane Society of South Mississippi while the dogs around her barked and jumped.
Johnson put her hand on the wire door of FeFe’s cage. The female pit bull licked it.
Johnson told her fiancé, who was visiting a friend at HSSM, you have to meet this dog. Johnson and Matt Garriga weren’t looking for a dog. They had a 4-year-old pit bull at home. But when they heard FeFe’s story and found out she also was 4 years old, the deal was cinched.
FeFe came to the shelter in September, traumatized and emaciated. The Biloxi Police Department had found her in the back yard of a rental home on Pringle Circle where no one was living. A neighbor had reported a strong odor.
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Animal control officers found a male pit bull dead, stuffed into a garbage bag. A female pit bull was in the backyard, too. A microchip would eventually unravel the tale of FeFe’s ownership, but not how the two dogs were related or how they wound up in this cruel state.
Not the first time
Animal control officers delivered the female pit bull to HSSM. Workers discovered a microchip that held the names of the owner and her dog. Ironically, HSSM micro-chipped the dog in 2013 after she was brought in as a stray and the owner came to claim her.
FeFe was in much worse shape this time. Biloxi police have a warrant out for the alleged owner’s arrest on an animal cruelty charge, but Capt. Harold Windom said they have not yet located her. The woman was lined up to rent the house on Pringle Circle. The owner changed her mind about renting to the woman after the dogs were found.
“When she first came in, she was so skinny and her skin was so messed up,” said Katie King, development manager at HSSM. “She looked really rough.”
They put FeFe in the room for sick and traumatized dogs, a nursery of sorts away from the sharp echoes of barking dogs in the main kennel.
“Who named the dog FeFe?” volunteer Wendy Kennedy asked when the two first met. “She’s a big ol’ pit bull.”
Nobody had an answer, but they could all tell FeFe was at one time loved. She was friendly toward people and animals.
Johnson and Garriga took FeFe for a walk at the shelter the day they met her. FeFe’s tail wagged all the while.
A forever home
Of course, the couple took her home to Long Beach for a trial run and, of course, they decided after a week to adopt FeFe. She has a brother now, Dice. The irony is not lost on Johnson, although nobody can say what Fefe’s relation was to the deceased dog found in that backyard.
Dice sleeps in the bed. The couple kept FeFe in a kennel the first couple of nights, but that felt like treating her as a stepchild, Johnson said.
All four members of the family now sleep together in a king-size bed. FeFe had tested positive for heartworms. HSSM’s Have a Heart Fund is paying for the reduced-rate treatment that veterinarian Jen Griffin provides to the nonprofit at Happy Tails Animal Clinic in D’Iberville.
Workers at the shelter and the couple who adopted FeFe are impressed that she is so loving toward people after what she has been through, but not surprised. She is a dog, after all.
“All that matters is right now and her future,” Kennedy said. “It doesn’t matter what’s she’s lived through before.”
“They learn to let go when they get loved again.”
The Humane Society of South Mississippi shared the happy ending on its Facebook page.