March 8, 2021 3.21 pm This story is over 38 months old

Woman who tried to drown Bella the dog avoids jail

Bella is now looking for a loving home

A woman who pleaded guilty to attempting to drown a dog in the River Trent near Lincoln has been fined, but avoided a jail sentence.

Bella the Belgian Shepherd’s lead was attached to a carrier bag tied to a large rock. The dog was rescued by passer-by Jane Harper after she was discovered struggling and submerged in the water near Long Lane in Farndon near Newark on January 6, 2020.

The owner of the dog Charlene Latham, 31, of St Brannocks Road, Ilfracombe in Devon, was arrested by police. She appeared in court on Monday, March 8 and was given a 12-month community order, as well as being disqualified from keeping dogs for three years.

Jane manages to get Bella onto a large stone. | Photo: RSPCA

Jane Harper rescuing Bella. | Photo: RSPCA

Jane gets bella to safety. | Photo: RSPCA

Latham was also fined £80, was ordered to pay £200 costs and a £32 victim surcharge.

Leigh Johnson, 32, had denied the same charge at a previous court appearance and the case against him was discontinued.

Passer-by Jane Harper managed to free the struggling animal before the matter was reported to Nottinghamshire Police, who took the dog to a local vet.

The vet said had she not been treated when she was, then Bella would have died.

Locals bring towels to wrap shivering Bella in. | Photo: RSPCA

Bella on arrival at the Radcliffe Animal Centre. | Photo: RSPCA

Jane Harper and Joanne Bellamy reunited with Bella at RSPCA centre. | Photo: RSPCA

After the ordeal, Bella was rushed for emergency veterinary treatment and it was there that Bella’s microchip was found. It was registered in 2010 and gave her name and her owner’s details.

Bella was transferred into the the care of the RSPCA Radcliffe Animal Centre in Nottingham. Police and the RSPCA then launched an investigation.

Bella, aged 11, has remained at the centre since as she has complex veterinary needs. She has been completely transformed from the dog who almost didn’t make it to the bouncy elderly girl she is now.

Bella is now a completely transformed dog. | Photo: RSPCA

Bella at Christmas in 2020. | Photo: RSPCA

Bella and Ella Carpenter. | Photo: RSPCA

Ella Carpenter, manager at Radcliffe Animal Centre said after the case that they are now desperate to find Bella a loving new home.

The home would need to be in the vicinity of the Radcliffe Centre.

Ella said: “We are both proud and privileged to have cared for Bella over the past fourteen months.

“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.

“We hope that she will now be able to live out the rest of her life with the love and respect that she has always deserved and are looking for that special forever home for Bella.”

Bella chasing a ball. | Photo: RSPCA

Bella and animal care assistant Sophie Major. | Photo: RSPCA

The incident also prompted over 165,000 people to call for tougher sentences and justice for Bella.

Inspector Heather Sutton, District Commander for Newark and Sherwood at Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Britain is undoubtedly a nation of animal lovers, which has been demonstrated by the overwhelming support we have received from members of the public to help Bella and assist our officers with their investigation into this particularly sad case.

“Animal cruelty investigations can often be very complex and we have worked closely with the RSPCA throughout.

“I would like to thank the public for their support, which has meant that we were able to make arrests and charges following the investigation.”