IndyCLAW to dedicate new bunny barn extension to volunteer who drowned rescuing dog

COLUMBUS, Ind. -- A local rescue group plans to dedicate an extension of their bunny barn to a volunteer who lost her life while trying to rescue a dog over the weekend. 

Jacquelyn Watts, 33, was a well-known animal activist who served on the board of directors for IndyCLAW, an Indianapolis rescue shelter. She was found dead Saturday morning near the Flatrock River in Bartholomew County. The coroner ruled her death an accidental drowning. 

Watts was last seen chasing a small, lost dog before she died. Police said that dog was also found dead along the river. 

Members of IndyCLAW say Jackie was excited about the new extension they were working to build on their bunny barn. The group plans to dedicate that extension to her memory.

"If there's anyone I know who would have jumped into the water to help an animal, I would have guessed her as the number one person who would make that decision," said Watts' friend, Chatney Gelfius. "I  can't think of one memory of her where she wasn't doing good, being good."

Gelfius said she met Watts more than a decade ago and the two remained close through the years. 

She said Watts was not only an activist but also an animal lover who touched many lives through her work. 

"I'm not saying this because she's not here, but she was sunshine in a bottle," said Gelfius. "She was an amazing woman, and she'll be missed."

Dr. John Quick read a statement from Watts' family at a Monday afternoon press conference. 

The statement ended with a heart-wrenching note: 

“Oh, that we would all be filled with enough passion to give our lives for what we believe in.”   

Watch Quick read the note in the video player above.

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