Natchez Trace State Park is a beautiful wooded oasis, tucked between the borders of Mississippi and Tennessee. This 48,000-acre park is home to a number of wild animals who are indigenous to the area.

It is also home to a large number of homeless dogs and cats, many of whom were abandoned by their humans. With weather that runs the gamut from sweltering summers to frozen, snowy winters, life in Natchez can be difficult for dogs on their own. Luckily, these dogs had the help of a man who has also been living in these woods for over 16 years.

At first glance, it might be easy to mistake these animals for a pack of wild dogs.

But a closer look reveals that many of these animals were once family pets, who were abandoned.

Many people release dogs in places like this, believing that they are “setting them free,” while the sad reality is that without any way to find food or shelter, most homeless dogs do not survive.

Being a homeless person often is an equally sad and lonely fate.

This man has made his home in the woods around Natchez for the past 16 years. Eventually, he befriended  the dogs who also made their home here. His pack now consists of 31 dogs! Finding food for everyone was a difficult task, so he began to reach out to nearby communities for help.

After many years of living in the elements, he was having trouble with his health, but he worried about what would happen to his dogs if he left. Eventually, he agreed to come out of the woods to get the help he needed – only after his dogs were safe.

Which is where the Animal Recue Corps got involved. The Animal Rescue Corps is an organization dedicated to executing large-scale rescue operations like these, that are often beyond the capacities of  local animal control.

With so many of the dogs needing medical attention, it was clear that they would need to act quickly.

Many of the dogs walked right up to their rescuers, eager for new human companions.

Others watched from a safe distance, nervous about their fate.

Some of these dogs were clearly afraid, leaving the safety of their pack and the only human that they trusted.

The dogs who would not come willingly were carried to their rescue crates by their loving human, who clearly did not take this decision lightly.  

Eventually, they gathered the last of them and everyone set off to begin their new lives.

Although Tennessee is a state with an extremely limited number of animal resources, the Animal Rescue Corps was able to combine efforts with Compassion in Action of Tennessee, The Montgomery County Animal Control, and Novamet Specialty Products to create a temporary shelter for the dogs. There, the dogs will be treated for parasites, vaccinated, and neutered before going on to find their forever homes. Hopefully, the kind homeless man will also get the help that he needs to live a better life, giving this story a happy ending for all.