Man wouldn’t leave his dog. Now he may lose his feet

[Update: The family who took in Hero has set up a GoFundMe page.]

If there’s a little bit of love left in the world, the internet should do that thing it does for Jay Mitchell, whose story on the front page of the Star Tribune today will bring out the feels, including a fair amount of anger that he faced what he faced.

Mitchell has been living in his truck since cancer killed his wife in December. He took care of her for two years as she wasted away. Then, he lost his lease where he lived, reporter Mary Lynn Smith writes.

He had nowhere to go but the truck and now he’s in the hospital being treatment for frostbite.

Because he wouldn’t give up his dog, Hero.

It was an hour-by-hour fight to survive the cold this week.

He and Hero buried themselves under a pile of blankets in the truck, sleeping an hour at a time, turning on the engine every so often to gain some precious heat.

“It was pure survival, an hour at a time,” said Mitchell, who spent years working construction and odd jobs as a handyman. They moved from one Walmart parking lot to another, parking in the sun during the day, trying to stay out of harm’s way at night.

He got so desperate he drove by the humane society a few times to give Hero up.

“But I couldn’t do it,” he said, anguish cutting into his words. He and his wife had a pact, pinkie-swearing never to leave each other behind. That’s why he never left her side as cancer ravaged her body, he said. And it’s why he refused to give up Hero, “who’s like my son,” Mitchell said.

A church put him up at a Motel 6 for a week. His Social Security check should come soon. But the frostbite sent him to the hospital where doctors aren’t entirely sure they can save his feet.

Against medical advice, he left HCMC on Saturday to try to find a place for Hero, but on Wednesday he thought he was dying.

A case worker, also a hero, had found a temporary home for Hero, so he went back to the hospital.

Do that thing you do, internet.