Belgian Shepherd rescued from river nominated for national bravery award | TeamDogs
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Belgian Shepherd rescued from river nominated for national bravery award

Bella’s former owner tied her to a rock and threw her into a freezing river

Katie Collier

Posted 2 months ago

By Jack Evans 

Bella won the hearts of the nation after she was hurled into a freezing river with a rock tied around her neck last year. Now she’s up for a national bravery award. 

The Belgian Shepherd was rescued from the River Trent in January last year when a heroic passer-by saw her struggling and hauled her to safety. 

Fifteen months after her ordeal, in April this year, the 11-year-old dog found a loving home with owners Maggie and Charlie and she’s happily settled.   

Bella has now been nominated for the SuperDog Survivor Award – a newly launched national initiative that recognises and celebrates exceptional canines.  

The RSPCA Radcliffe Animal Centre nursed Bella back to health and nominated her for the prize.  

Read more: Police dog who saved life of missing person nominated for award

A spokesperson said: "Bella’s story touched the nation when she was rescued from the River Trent on a cold January morning in 2020. Tied to a boulder in a deliberate attempt to drown her, she was dumped in the middle of the night and left to perish.  

“Bella was in our care here at the Radcliffe Animal Centre for 14 months while the case was under investigation with the national RSPCA.   

“Sophie, Bella’s main carer for this time, has been by her side through what can only be described as a remarkable recovery from the appalling suffering she endured.  

“Not knowing whether Bella would overcome her trauma, with her age and underlying health conditions against her, she showed enviable strength and courage; fighting every day and not wanting to give up.  


Bella received medical treatment and recovered well. (Credit: Gabriella Petty/SWNS)

“Over time, Sophie got to know Bella’s little quirks, her cheeky demands and her mischievous naughty streak. Sophie says she took no nonsense from Bella but we all know Bella had her well trained to answer to her every whim.  

“We couldn’t have wished for a more caring couple to welcome Bella into their lives. Both Maggie and Charlie are retired and, having owned a number of German Shepherds throughout their lives, we know Bella will be well looked after. She has already become a much-loved member of their family.  

“Watching Bella play in the sunshine is such a beautiful contrast to the cold bleak day when she first entered our care. Bella has been courageous throughout and truly is a very special dog who is most worthy of a SuperDog Survivor Award.  

“She definitely deserves her place in the hearts of many across the world.” 


Bella is now happy in her new home. (Image: Steve Chatterley/SWNS)

Cruel Charlene Latham, 32, who tried to drown Bella by chucking her into the water, was fined £80 in March this year. She had stuffed the heavy rock in a carrier bag and tied the handles to her lead.  

She then threw the dog and the rock into the water in Farndon, Notts., before fleeing the scene.  

Passer-by Jane Harper was walking along the riverbank at 8.45am on January 6 last year when she heard a loud splash.  

She dashed to see what had happened and watched in horror as Bella began to disappear under the water.  

Read more: A German Shepherd and a duck are best friends

Dramatic pictures show Jane dragging Bella to safety before calling police who rushed the frozen dog to the vets.  

Latham was arrested after Bella’s microchip identified her as her owner and she admitted causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. 

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