Passer-by saves Belgian Shepherd that woman tried to drown in freezing river with rock tied to neck


Incredible survival of Bella the dog whose owner tied her to a rock and dumped in a river before hero passer-by came to rescue

  • Bella Belgian Shepherd carrier bag with a large rock inside attached to her leash 
  • Charlene Latham, 31, of Newark, admitted attempting to try and drown the dog
  • Passerby Jane Harper jumped in the River Trent to help rescue the stranded dog

A woman has admitted attempting to drown a dog which was found in a freezing river with a heavy rock tied to its lead.

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

She was saved by a heroic passerby, Jane Harper, who bravely leapt into the water in Farndon, Nottinghamshire, at 8:45am on January 6 this year.

Picture shows Jane Harper of Newark, Notts, rescuing Bella, whose lead had been tied to a rock and thrown in the River Trent

The animal, whose name was recorded on her microchip in 2010 as Bella, was taken to a vet and Charlene Latham, 31, of Newark, has since admitted trying to drown her

The animal, whose name was recorded on her microchip in 2010 as Bella, was taken to a vet and Charlene Latham, 31, of Newark, has since admitted trying to drown her

The dog's lead was tied to a large rock in a carrier bag. A police officer is pictured above holding the rock

The dog’s lead was tied to a large rock in a carrier bag. A police officer is pictured above holding the rock

Nottinghamshire Police took the dog to a local vet where she received care and is now in good health.

Charlene Latham, 31, of Newark, appeared at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on November 23.

Jane Harper was out walking on in January afternoon when her friend told her she could see the head of a dog bobbing in the water. 

With no thought to her own safety, Jane, dived into the river and tried to lift the dog out, but couldn’t.

Jane is seen above trying to pull Bella out of the water after her friend spotted the dog's head bobbing in the water

Jane is seen above trying to pull Bella out of the water after her friend spotted the dog’s head bobbing in the water

Speaking at the time, Jane said: ‘The water was so murky, I couldn’t pull her out. I saw a lead wrapped around her leg, and a blue line that was leading down to something submerged.

‘I got my arm underneath her and tried to lift her up.

‘I imagine she literally fought to get her head above water and managed to rest it on a step.

‘How could anyone do this to her? I don’t know how long she had been in the water but I don’t think she could have survived much longer. It was just so cruel.’  

She pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal namely Bella the shepherd dog, by an act, namely by attempting to drown the dog resulting in the animal being immersed in the cold water of the River Trent for a prolonged period, and that she knew, or ought to have known, that the act would have that effect or be likely to do so.

She was released on bail until her next court appearance on March 8, 2021 along with a 32-year-old man who denied the same charge.

Bella is seen above tucking into some lunch after going through an awful ordeal in January

Bella is seen above tucking into some lunch after going through an awful ordeal in January 

Chief Superintendent Rob Griffin, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: ‘This was a highly emotive incident that was understandably very shocking to the public.

‘Thankfully Bella is reported to be doing well and is in very good hands.

‘Animal cruelty is totally unacceptable and we will always support our colleagues in the RSPCA in whatever we can in their investigations.’

An RSPCA spokesperson said at the time of the incident: ‘We are working with police following reports of a dog in the River Trent in Farndon with a carrier bag attached to her lead with a rock inside.

‘Luckily a member of the public came across the Belgian Shepherd dog and was able to save her.

‘We have found the dog was microchipped in 2010 and her name is Bella and she is aged 10.’

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