The family of Jayla Rodriguez is creating a nonprofit organization called Jayla’s Dream to raise money to improve animal control on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, her aunt said this week.
Jayla, 8, was killed Nov. 18 by wild dogs while she was sledding behind a trailer house on the edge of the town of Pine Ridge, according to Oglala Sioux tribal police. The FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs are still investigating.
Cami Griffith, sister of Jayla’s mom, Danielle Griffith, told the Rapid City Journal that family members are applying to state and federal authorities for nonprofit, tax-exempt status. They’re also considering potential members of a board of directors.
“We want to make sure this doesn’t ever happen again,” Cami Griffith said, referring to the reported dog attack on her niece.
She said family members are weighing needs on the reservation. Money raised by the nonprofit could support tribal animal control efforts, animal rescue organizations that work on the reservation, or the startup of an animal shelter, said Griffith, who formerly worked for the Humane Society of the Black Hills.
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She said the family is motivated by Jayla’s love of animals, especially dogs. She had her own dog named Buppy.
Griffith said Jayla was well aware of the stray dogs on the reservation and wished homes could be found for them.
“We want to make sure she lives on,” Griffith said. “She was so sweet, and we just want to do what she would want.”
The family has set up a page on the GoFundMe website on which donations are being accepted. The page’s address is www.gofundme.com/hnys24.