April 6, 2021 10.41 am This story is over 14 months old

Happy ending for drowning survivor Bella the dog

Her previous owner tried to drown her

Bella the dog now has new owners after surviving a horrific ordeal in which she was tied to a large rock in an attempted drowning in the River Trent.

The Belgian Shepherd’s lead was attached to a carrier bag tied to a large rock before she was rescued by passer-by Jane Harper, and her friend Joanne Bellamy.

Bella was discovered struggling and submerged in the water close to Long Lane in Farndon near Newark on January 6, 2020 before the RSPCA and police launched an investigation.

The previous owner of the dog, Charlene Latham, 31, of St Brannocks Road, Ilfracombe in Devon, was arrested by police before later appearing in court on Monday, March 8 this year. She was given a 12-month community order and disqualified from keeping dogs for three years, as well as fined £80 and ordered to pay £200 costs and a £32 victim surcharge.

Bella, then aged 10, was looked after by staff at Radcliffe Animal Centre in Nottingham and she spent 15 months recuperating from her ordeal in RSPCA care.

The 11-year-old canine has now been given a happy ending after finding her new forever home with retired couple Maggie Mellish and Charlie Douglas, who live in a village in South Derbyshire.

The couple went to enjoy some time with their new pet at the animal centre which cared for her before Bella moved in with them earlier this month. Bella’s rescuers Jane Harper, and her friend Joanne Bellamy, were also invited to witness the happy occasion.

Jane gets bella to safety. | Photo: RSPCA

Bella’s rescuers Jane Harper and Joanne Bellamy. | Photo: RSPCA

Maggie 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.”

Bella chasing a ball. | Photo: RSPCA

Bella at Christmas in 2020. | Photo: RSPCA

Charlie 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.”

Jane, who freed Bella from the rock in the river, 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 on arrival at the Radcliffe Animal Centre. | Photo: RSPCA

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

Bella and Ella Carpenter. | Photo: RSPCA

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, as have the rest of the team, and given so much love to Bella to help her and I know she is going to be missed.

“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.”