Jennings County Jail gets a case of puppy love

NORTH VERNON — The Jennings County Jail has a Warrant that just might nab your heart.

The jail recently adopted a puppy named Warrant. Jail Commander Natasha Goins said the puppy has made a positive difference for jail staff members and those who are detained.

“He gets a lot of love,” Goins said of the 3-month-old pup adopted from Jennings County Animal Control.

Gives a lot, too.

Goins said the jail had been considering adopting a dog for some time, and with the blessing of Sheriff Kenny Freeman, Goins last year contacted the local shelter, which just happened to have received a litter of puppies born in December.

Michelle Matern, Jennings County senior animal control officer, said a local Amish family had brought in some puppies after being unable to find homes for all the dogs in a litter. Matern said she believed Warrant to be a dachshund-heeler mix.

Matern said Goins spotted the pup she wanted in the photo and said, “It just has to be him.”

“They took him that day, and he’s been thriving,” Matern said.

Goins said Freeman named the black-and-brown pooch Warrant. “He just said he felt like it fit him, and it does,” Goins said of Warrant’s name. “He just answers to it.”

Warrant spends time with deputies in the jail who train him — he’s already learned basic commands such as sit, stay, paw and lay down, Goins said — and he also makes rounds with jail staff checking on inmates. “He’s a very, very smart dog. We’re very proud to have him here.”

Goins also said Warrant is also funny, playful and enjoys a good nap. He strikes a pose with one ear that lays down and one that sticks up. “That’s kind of like his signature look,” she said.

Having Warrant around lightens the atmosphere in the jail. “He helps,” Goins said. “You can tell he brings up people’s spirits. … It’s a good, positive thing to be able to interact.”

Even science says so. Research, including studies collected by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Corrections, shows that pets in jails and prisons can reduce inmate stress, improve behavioral and mental health, promote trust and empathy and reduce recidivism, among other benefits.

Goins said she has firsthand proof of how the presence of a puppy, and the act of a simple pet, can change someone’s day.

“People can be down and upset, and all of a sudden, they’re happy.”