Happy ending as Bella the dog rescued from drowning in a river finds her new forever home!


01 April 2021
This week she enjoyed meeting both her rescuers and new owners at the RSPCA centre which has cared for her over the past 15 months

A dog who was rescued from drowning in the River Trent has finally found her forever home in Derbyshire after spending 15 months recuperating from her ordeal in RSPCA care.

Bella was rescued from the River Trent near Long Lane, Farndon, near Newark, on January 6 when two dog walkers saw her struggling in the water after she was left to drown with her lead tied to a large rock submerged in the water.

She, was immediately taken for emergency treatment at a local vet’s.

Bella (then aged 10) was then transferred into RSPCA care and since then she has been looked after by staff at Radcliffe Animal Centre in Nottingham while the animal welfare charity and police launched an investigation to find who was responsible.

Bella was fortunate to survive her ordeal in the freezing cold water and then it was discovered that she had a range of complex health needs.

But after months of rehabilitation by the RSPCA she was completely transformed and has now found her forever home with Maggie Mellish and Charlie Douglas.

The retired couple, who live in a village in South Derbyshire, are a perfect match for Bella (now aged 11) as they have had Shepherd-type dogs before and have the time to give her the love and attention she deserves in her latter years.

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 yesterday (Thurs). Bella’s rescuers, Jane Harper and her friend Joanne Bellamy, were also invited along to witness the happy occasion. 

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.

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“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 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.”

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.”

A woman was sentenced to a 12 months community order last month after she pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Bella by attempting to drown her. As well as a 12-month community order she was fined £80, was ordered to pay £200 costs and a £32 victim surcharge. She was also disqualified from keeping dogs for three years.