Michigan dog who chewed off his leg to escape neglect is given a road trip to a new shelter

bella the dog

Courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society

A dog from Michigan has traveled the country for a fresh start.

On Tuesday, Bella the rescue dog arrived at Best Friends Animal Society‘s sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, after a four-day, 1,800-mile road trip that began in Saginaw County Animal Care and Controll, in Saginaw, Michigan.

But Bella’s journey really began last year. On August 16, 2021, a mail carrier found the young pit bull mix entangled in a tether and abandoned in a backyard with no food, water or shelter. Stuck in this desperate situation, Bella gnawed on one of her hind legs in an attempt to escape.

The postman called 9-1-1 for assistance, and Saginaw Town Police and animal control officers responded. Bella allowed animal control officers to approach her and remove her from the painful tether wrapped around her body.

“This poor girl must have chewed off her leg, but her personality is still so loving, even though here she may be starving, abandoned and neglected,” said Bonnie Kanicki, director of Saginaw County Animal Care and Control, says PEOPLE shortly after Bella’s rescue.

bella the dog

bella the dog

Courtesy of Saginaw Animal Care & Control

Saginaw County Animal Care and Control took in the neglected animal and helped her through the two surgeries she needed to treat her injuries. Bella recovered quickly from her procedures and smoothly adapted to life on three legs thanks to her fighting spirit and generous personality.

Unfortunately, the trauma Bella experienced earlier in her life has affected some of her current behaviors. Saginaw County Animal Care and Control recognized the dog needed training with a trauma specialist to have the best chance of a bright future – so the shelter appealed for a rescue without kill with experience helping traumatized dogs to support Bella’s care.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the nation’s largest no-kill pet sanctuary, answered the call and agreed to take the animal in after reviewing Bella’s medical and behavioral history. Best Friends has a long history of helping neglected and abused pets, including looking after a number of dogs saved from Michael Vick’s Dogfighting Ring.

bella the dog

bella the dog

Courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society

On Saturday, Bella left Michigan for the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. She was seen by the many admirers she gained during her time at Saginaw County Animal Care and Control, including Saginaw residents Bob and Pat Schust, who covered the costs associated with the 1,800-mile road trip from Bella, and Zach Webster, of Thelen Subaru of Thelen Auto Group, in Bay City, according to a statement from Saginaw County Animal Care and Control. Thelen Subaru lent the vehicle used by Bella and her traveling companions for the road trip and covered the cost of gas.

“She landed in this situation through no fault of hers,” Kanicki said of Bella. “She’s gone from horrors to people’s joy. There are so many now who have a heart for her.”

Saginaw animal control officers Desi Sage, who answered the initial animal cruelty call about Bella, and Father Balderstone, who assisted in her rescue, drove Bella to Utah for four days, making many stops along the way to play, rest and explore.

“To walk into the garden and see Bella in such distress that day was incredibly heartbreaking,” Sage said in a statement obtained by Best Friends. “Unexpectedly, Bella overcame being left for dead. I am honored to be able to be a part of her new life. I am beyond grateful to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for ensuring that Bella will never put up with a such pain and such agony. I believe this next chapter of her life will help her move forward and hopefully land her in a loving home with people who truly see how great she is. really special.”

Best Friends are optimistic that they will help Bella heal physically and emotionally from the cruelty she endured prior to her rescue and are eager to house the smiling dog for as long as she needs it.

“Ultimately Bella’s best situation will be to be adopted by a family, but she’s going to love life here at the sanctuary until she brings it home forever,” Julie Castle said. executive director of Best Friends Animal Society, in a statement. “We’re grateful that we were able to help and play a small role in Bella’s life journey. That’s why we do what we do. These are the times that make the hard times worth it.”

bella the dog

bella the dog

Courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society

The Best Friends staff members expressed this gratitude by warmly welcoming Bella to the sanctuary. Two of the Best Friends founders and several other employees welcomed the dog with toys and open arms.

During Bella’s first days at the sanctuary, staff will monitor the animal’s normal daily interactions and use this information, along with the dog’s behavior history, to create a training plan for the year-old dog and understand their long-term goals.

For now, Bella is concentrating on getting set up, comfortable and playing with her new toys.

Visit Best friends and Saginaw County Animal Care and Control online to learn more about how you can support their life-saving work.