ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) –- An Elizabethtown man has been serving the homeless in his church's community center for the past 15 months, but now that could all be in jeopardy ... because of a dog.

“Me and my ex came down here and first night we were in an abandoned house right across the street, and she set me on fire,” Calvin Easterly told WDRB News.

Easterly originally moved to Kentucky hoping to find farm work until he was hospitalized for second and third degree burns to his back. Once released from the hospital, he arrived at the Vaughn Reno Starks Community Center. Director Barry Howard fed him, clothed him and offered him a place stay to stay for over a month so he wouldn’t have to live on the streets.

“Probably would have had to gone back to the hospital for surgery again, because my back wouldn't have healed up as good as it did,” Easterly said.

But that kind of work that Howard does at the center, which is owned by First Baptist Church of Elizabethtown, is at risk. He says some of his fellow church members are against his 2-year-old Pitbull named Ruby being there with him.

“I bring my dog for protection and things like that to stay all night with me when I'm here with these people," Howard said. "I have her trained. She's not a ferocious dog, even though they have a bad name. They say he's got a Pitbull over there, and it don't need to be there."

Howard said he would rather have his dog as protection than a gun when helping strangers.

“If I had to leave my dog at home, I'd probably give it up,” Howard said.

Reverend B.T. Bishop chose not to comment on the issue.

Howard says he continues to pray to God for a solution.

“So when I prayed last night, and I told my sister I think I’m done, when I woke up this morning, I said I ain't going nowhere. They're going to have to set me out,” Howard said.

“It was on my heart to carry on and keep trying to help them.".

It was help that meant so much to Easterly, who is now on his way back home to be with family in Alabama.

“I appreciate everything they've done ... I mean, it was surprising at first. I'm not used to people helping,” Easterly said.

Now that winter is over, the Vaughn Reno Starks Community Center is only open to the homeless during severe weather.

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