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Britain's loneliest dog spends 15 months in RSPCA care looking for a home

RSPCA behaviourists spent 15 months transforming this nervous dog into one who's full of life and now they need someone to provide the rural retreat she deserves.

The RSPCA has launched a special appeal to find a rural home for Bella the beagle and lurcher cross who has sadly waited more than 450 days in kennels to find her forever home.

Bella came into the care of RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre in Chobham, Surrey, in February 2020 after she had been in four different homes by the time she was just seven months old. Being passed from one owner to another in such a short space of time and at such a critical point in her development as a puppy, has left her with some emotional scars.

However, the behaviourist team at RSPCA Millbrook have been working hard to improve Bella’s socialisation and confidence and now hope she will find the loving forever home she deserves.

Liz Wood, deputy manager at RSPCA Millbrook, said: “Poor Bella has been in our care for over a year now. This February marked Bella's one year anniversary with us. A stay of that length isn't something to celebrate - it's our aim to find all animals a loving home as soon as we can. But with Bella, we can celebrate how far she's come. This past year of lockdown has made it incredibly difficult to rehome dogs, especially those with complex needs but it's also enabled our teams to work more closely with these animals, in quiet environments, to give them their best-ever chance of a happy ever after.

“When Bella came to us, she was very scared and very under socialised with dogs and people. Also, being a typical young dog who has had little or no suitable training, her attention and recall with people was limited which is all something we worked hard on with her.”

Animal care assistants Phil Morrison and Sophie Foord took on the role of befriending Bella and working closely with her day to day. And animal behaviourist June Williams, who is funded by local charity the Friends of Millbrook, began visiting three times a week to help Bella. A vet also advised that Bella needed anti-anxiety medication which has worked well.

The Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions has been positive for Bella in that she hasn’t had to deal with visitors coming to the kennels as the centres have been closed to the public, however, it has also delayed her rehoming. While the charity can rehome some less challenging animals via Zoom, this was never going to work for Bella who needs to meet her potential adopter multiple times in the flesh. Now with restrictions beginning to relax, Millbrook is hoping to make a match.

Liz added: “Bella was living in a small flat before coming into our care and she is very wary of noises and unfamiliar people so she will need to be rehomed to a rural location with an enclosed garden away from the public so that she can feel calm and happy in her own space.”

The one-year-old dog is cheeky and full of energy and is looking for an experienced adult-only home. Ideally she would need to be rehomed to a rural, detached property as she would find living in a built-up area very stressful.

“At times, Bella can be high on life and her lovely, cheeky personality really shines through but if something scares her or is unfamiliar, she can struggle to cope so will need a patient and understanding owner who is going to help build up her confidence.” Liz explained. “She enjoys being with people she knows and trusts and would benefit from having an owner who has trained and had young, complex dogs before. We’d also like her to be rehomed close to the centre so that we can offer support and guidance for her new owners as she starts the next chapter in her life.”

She will need an active home as she has lots of energy and someone who will be around a lot to give her the attention she needs and continue her training. Bella has shown her clever side and knows ‘sit, down and paw’. She also loves football and is great at agility.

Liz added: “We have worked hard to improve Bella’s socialisation and confidence and are now at the point where that socialisation, training and confidence building needs to continue in a home environment so we are really keen to find the perfect home for Bella. As she has already been in four homes, we want to make sure that this time she ends up in the right, permanent and happy forever home that she so desperately deserves.”

For more information or to rehome Bella contact RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre.
For more details on Bella’s story, see: https://www.rspca.org.uk/-/news-bella-the-dog-a-year-in-lockdown

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.

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