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Rescuer recounts how she only knew Bella the dog who was weighted down and dumped in a river was alive because she blinked




The woman who saved a dog that had been weighted down and dumped in the River Trent said she believed it was dead until it blinked.

Jane Harper spotted Bella as she walked along the Trent with a friend and three dogs at around 8.45am on Monday.

It was her friend Joanne Bellamy who spotted the dog's head protruding from the water and drew Jane's attention to it.

Jane Harper rescues Bella. (26151524)
Jane Harper rescues Bella. (26151524)

She said: "I looked and I thought 'that's a dead dog' ­— then she blinked."

With no thought to her own safety, Jane, jumped into the river and tried to lift the dog out, but there was resistance.

"The water was so murky," she said: "I couldn't pull her out.

Jane Harper pulls Bella from the river. (26151528)
Jane Harper pulls Bella from the river. (26151528)

"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."

Jane untangled the line and hauled the dog to the bank, where she discovered the line was attached to a carrier bag with a large rock inside.

"I imagine she literally fought to get her head above water and managed to rest it on a step," said Jane.

Bella at the vets. (26151513)
Bella at the vets. (26151513)

"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."

Joanne and Jane rang dog groomer friend Pam Robinson who happened to be walking nearby with her husband Dale.

Dale carried the dog onto the bank, took his jumper off and wrapped it around the dog to keep it warm.

Bella at the vets. (26151516)
Bella at the vets. (26151516)

Nottinghamshire Police, who described Jane as brave, are working with the RSPCA.

The dog was identified through its microchip as Bella.

Bella is rescued from the Trent. (26151510)
Bella is rescued from the Trent. (26151510)

Police are appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area of Long Lane, which leads to a path and a fishing area opposite Staythorpe Power Station, to come forward.

Pc Adam Pace said: "This was an evil and nasty thing to do to this poor dog.

"We are lucky that the kind member of the public found and rescued her."

The rock that was used to weight Bella down. (26151519)
The rock that was used to weight Bella down. (26151519)

"If you saw anything, or have CCTV or dash-cam footage in the area, please get in touch on 101, quoting incident number 103 of January 6, 2020."

Police took Bella to a local vet where she is recovering and now eating.

"While the dog is still quite poorly, she has been showing some encouraging signs by eating so hopefully she will be on the mend," said Pc Pace.

Scores of people have offered their support to Bella online and promised her doggie treats, while Pam has promised her a free groom just as soon as she is well enough.

• A 32-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty offences have been released under investigation.

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