Dog hurled into river with rock tied around her neck finds ‘forever home’ with new family in Derbyshire

A dog which was rescued from drowning after being hurled into a freezing river with a rock tied around her neck has found her ‘forever home’ with a new family in Derbyshire.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 3:23 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd April 2021, 3:54 pm

Belgian Shepherd Bella was found up to her neck in water in the River Trent after having a carrier bag containing the rock tethered to her leash on January 6 last year.

She was saved by a heroic passer-by who bravely leapt into the water near Long Lane in Farndon, Nottinghamshire, to rescue the drowning pooch.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Bella with new owners Maggie Mellish and Charlie Douglas.
Bella with new owners Maggie Mellish and Charlie Douglas.

Police took the dog to a local vet where she received emergency treatment and she 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 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 are both retired so she will have our company constantly which is what she really needs and it will be great for us too.”

Happy Bella.

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.”

Ella Carpenter, manager at Radcliffe Animal Centre, added: “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.”

Bella’s former owner Charlene Latham, 32, was sentenced to a 12-month 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.

A message from Phil Bramley, Derbyshire Times editor

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription at or buying a paper.