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Adopted dogs adjusting to better life with ACSO

Buckshot sits on a trustie’s lap as Cocoa lies on the floor next to him Friday afternoon outside of the Adams County Jail. Both of the dogs are rescue dogs from the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society that the trustys take care of. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Even though they still sleep in the Adams County jail every night, two former death row prisoners are now free to move about during the day, playing with trusties and — if they’re really good — getting a treat from the sheriff.

And while the treatment Cocoa and Buckshot receive is certainly different than most other long-term residents of the jail, most other residents have only two legs and aren’t furry. Cocoa and Buckshot are the Adams County jail’s therapy dogs.

Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said the two dogs have been at the jail since June, when they were adopted from the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society. At the time, both were slated to be euthanized. Cocoa, a chocolate Labrador, had been beaten, poisoned and thrown under a house to die, while Buckshot, a mixed breed with probable pitbull ancestry, had been shot in one of his back hips.

“When we got the dogs, they told us (Buckshot and Cocoa) would probably not have survived in the shelter,” Mayfield said. “With their wounds and broken spirits, they were natural targets for other dogs.”

Sgt. Terry Dunn pets Cocoa Friday afternoon outside of the jail. Sheriff Chuck Mayfield pays for the dogs’ expenses out of pocket. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

The sheriff’s office had started looking for rescue dogs because of a request the jail trusties made, Mayfield said.

“When we were having our annual rodeo, there was a stray dog out there, and (the trusties) liked it and asked if they could take it and take care of it,” he said. “I told them yeah, but somebody came up there and got it before they could.”

And while being adopted has been good for the animals, the sheriff said it’s good for the prisoners as well.

“It gives them something to be responsible for, to feed and take care of, clean the pen out, I think it just kind of helps to have something to take care of and that loves them back like dogs do,” Mayfield said. “It has been good for them. They have really enjoyed having the dogs.”

Cocoa already had a name when he came to the jail, but the trusties named Buckshot, referencing the wound that has left one of his back legs too weak to stand on.

Adams County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Courtney Taylor often interacts with the animals, and earlier this year took them to the blessing of the animals on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. In addition to the benefit they receive from interacting with the trusties, the dogs’ relationships with each other have helped with their recoveries, Taylor said.

“Cocoa was not physically in bad shape when he got here, it was just that his spirit was broken, and his friendship with Buckshot has really helped with that,” Taylor said.

“Buckshot is smaller, and he is pretty feisty but very sweet. He is kind of bossy with Cocoa — he is definitely the dominant personality.”

The sheriff said that while the dogs spend most of their time with the trusties, he allows them into his office and gives them treats.

But Taylor said the dogs cost the taxpayers nothing — Mayfield pays for their dog food, treats, veterinarian bills and toys.

“And I, personally, buy hats and costumes for Buckshot, which he tolerates like a gentleman,” she said.

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