SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – There’s a new sheriff in town, but you may miss her if you don’t look down.
Twerp is a chihuahua who was rescued by a local shelter and trained in the Operation New Hope program from the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office. The program allows inmates to train locally rescued dogs so the animals can be adopted.
Operation New Hope Coordinator Jennifer Messer tells News 3 the program is extremely successful and many animals have found a new home through the adoption held at the Detention Center.
“Last year, we had over 142 dogs graduate and complete the program and got adopted successfully,” says Messer.
Messer met Twerp when the dog first entered the program. She says she was drawn to Twerp because of her friendly and calm disposition — something uncommon to most chihuahuas. Looking back, Messer says Twerp has helped her a lot.
“Everyone’s had their own trials and tribulations, I’ve had my own too. So this has really helped me,” Messer says. “Twerp has helped me. All my dogs have helped me. So this program is very dear to my heart and I’m going to continue to make it a success. “
Inmates train the dogs for four weeks and take care of them while incarcerated. These experiences work to give them valuable skills they can apply to jobs once they re-enter into society.
“A lot of these people didn’t even know they had a gift until they came. Once they started training a dog, they figured out they had a gift,” says Messer.
The program is currently on hold until construction of a new facility dedicated to Operation New Hope is complete. Once finished, the facility will house up to 32 inmates that live in quarters with the dogs they train.