Animal lover’s final act may have been saving a senior dog

Beloved animal advocate has died
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Update 3/7/17: Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting has confirmed that Watts died from an accidental drowning. Investigators believe that she was trying to save Ringo when she was swept into the river.

An animal lover, whose body was found on a sandbar in the Flat Rock River in Columbus, Indiana, on Saturday morning, may have spent her final moments trying to save a runaway senior dog. According to Monday’s Indy Star, witnesses have stated that 33-year-old Jacqueline (Kleine) Watts was observed chasing after a 10-year-old deaf and sight impaired poodle named “Ringo,” not long before she disappeared.

Watts had dropped her pets off with family members on Friday and she was supposed to meet up with her husband before heading out for a trip to Washington D.C., but she failed to show up and a missing person report was put out by concerned family members shortly thereafter.

Searchers discovered Watts’ car, still running with a door open, on Friday evening and her body was found not far away on Saturday – the authorities do not believe that the woman was a victim of foul play. Investigators have pieced together a timeline of Watts’ final moments and it appears that she was trying to capture Ringo shortly before she died.

According to the authorities’ findings, a witness saw a woman who looked like Watts chasing after a small dog in the area of 23rd and Washington. Another witness believes that Watts was also chasing after the same dog near Flat Rock River. Pieces of the puzzle are still missing, and an autopsy showing exactly how the woman died has not yet been completed, but it appears that Watts’ pursuit of the dog and her death are tied together.

The body of the dog in question was found on Sunday afternoon, on the river’s east bank, not far from where Watts was discovered.

The rescue community is mourning the loss of Watts, who was with Indy Rescue for five years. After word of Jackie’s death was released, the rescue group offered Facebook followers a glimpse into her compassionate nature:

Jackie was always taking home the really sick bunnies that she could nurture back to health, and if that wasn’t possible, she would many times keep them to their end. Even adopting a pair post mortem that she so dearly loved and nursed until they died. Just yesterday, Jackie was sitting on the floor of the Bunny Barn trying to help me give fluids to a long time bunny we believe to have cancer.

Prior article about this tragedy here.

(Photo via Indy Rescue FB page)



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  1. She died doing what she loved….caring for lost animals. Bless you sweet Jacqueline. May God lead you to Rainbow Bridge to reunite with all your lost furbabies.

  2. I wouldn’t be surprised, she died trying to help a dog in need. May she rest in peace and may all that loved her find peace in knowing she was doing what she did best, save animals.

  3. This made me cry.What a wonderful lady to risk her life.She did and the poor poodle did not die alone.They crossed that rainbow bridge together.I will say a prayer for both of them and their families.

  4. Ohhhh….So sad..What a lovely young compassionate woman…. Bless you sweetheart…. Your with the angels and all the animals you helped …….

  5. So very sad that both she and the dog perished. When I initially read the story and how the car engine was running and the door open and it’s not foul play, then the only thing I could think was that she was trying to catch a stray animal. RIP to Jackie and Ringo.

  6. I can think of no better way to go, than trying to save a companion: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends: John 15:13…

    They are both at God’s side, now – “at play, in the fields of the Lord”…

  7. what a wonderful young woman. the world needs more people like her. she is with all of her bunnies and other animals now. they no longer have to suffer and can play happily together forever.

  8. It’s as I suspected. RIP, Jackie. The animals in Indiana – and those of us in the rescue community – will miss you. Prayers to your family. I’m glad the dog you were trying to help was found safe, too.


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