Dog which was hurled into Nottinghamshire's River Trent with a rock tied around its neck finds 'forever home' with new family
A dog which was rescued from drowning after being hurled into the River Trent in Nottinghamshire with a rock tied around her neck has found her ‘forever home’ with a new family.
Belgian Shepherd Bella was found up to her neck in freezing water after having a carrier bag containing the rock tethered to her leash on January 6 last year.
She was saved by heroic passerby Jane Harper who bravely leapt into the water near Long Lane, Farndon, to rescue the drowning pooch.
Police took the dog to a local vet where she received emergency treatment and went on to make a remarkable recovery in the care of the RSPCA.
After 15 months of rehabilitation the 11-year-old dog has now found a new home in South Derbyshire with Maggie Mellish and Charlie Douglas.
The retired couple are described as a ‘perfect match’ for Bella as they have owned Shepherd-type dogs before and have the time to give her the attention she needs.
Maggie, 79, said: “We as a family, have three Shepherd-type dogs over the last 30 years and really love them.
"We lost our rescue dog Tia/Luna two years ago and my daughter’s dog Flame, this year. We did really miss them.
“Then we saw Bella’s story in the press a few weeks ago and the fact she needed a home so my daughter, Clare Lusher, encouraged us to apply for her.
“We know she will need regular vet appointments and are willing to finance those.
"We know she is in her older years but we just want to offer her a loving home she so deserves after all she has been through.
“We are both retired so she will have our company constantly which is what she really needs and it will be great for us too.”
Charlie, 70, added: “We were horrified by what happened to Bella and when we came to see her we realised what a great personality she has and she really is perfect for us.”
On Wednesday, the couple went to enjoy some time with their new pet - at the centre which has cared for her – ahead of her moving in with them on Thursday.
Bella’s rescuers, Jane Harper and her friend Joanne Bellamy, were also invited along to Radcliffe Animal Centre in Nottingham to witness the happy occasion.
Jane said: “It is quite emotional seeing Bella as it brings back memories of that terrible day but we are thrilled to see how she has been transformed by staff here at the RSPCA.
“She looks like a different dog - her coat is beautiful and she looks so happy and full of life.
"It is great to see how she has been rehabilitated and that she is now going to spend the rest of her days at a loving home.
"It was so nice to meet Bella’s new owners and we have said we will keep in touch.”
Bella was said to be fortunate to survive her ordeal in the freezing cold water and it was later discovered that she had a range of complex health needs.
Ella Carpenter, manager at Radcliffe Animal Centre, said: “This is the perfect happy ending to a story which started off so sad and there were real doubts if Bella could pull through after her terrible ordeal.
“At times we thought she just wouldn’t make it, with her age and underlying health conditions all against her.
"But Bella has fought every day, showing enviable strength and courage, not wanting to give up her fight to recover.
“Our animal care assistant Sophie Major has so worked so hard and given so much love to Bella to help her, as have the rest of the team, and I know she is going to be missed so much.
“But we know Bella will now be able to live out the rest of her life with the love and respect that she has always deserved.
“Maggie and Charlie really are perfect with their experience of this breed and they are aware of the challenges of her care as an elderly dog but are happy to take her in for however long she has left.
“They have a large secure garden which Bella needs as she does not like to be around other dogs and they have plenty of time and love to give her.”
Bella's former owner Charlene Latham, 32, was sentenced to a 12 months community order last month after she pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to her pet.
She was also fined £80, ordered to pay £200 costs and a £32 victim surcharge and disqualified from keeping dogs for three years at Nottingham Magistrates Court.