Saginaw dog that chewed off her own leg saved by rescue, continues rehab

Tied to a steel cable, dog chewed off its back leg a week before rescue

Photo of Angela Mulka

A Saginaw dog left for dead, tied up in deplorable conditions with no food, water or shelter was forced to chew off its own leg in an attempt to free itself from a painful entanglement.

Nearly a month after the incident, Bella, a brown and white pit bull assumed to be a year old, is doing very well and walking on her remaining legs, Saginaw County Animal Care and Control Director Bonnie Kanicki said.

Bella came into the care of Saginaw County Animal Care and Control on Aug. 16, when it received a call from police officers who initially responded to the 911 call placed by the U.S. Post Office mail carrier who first found Bella.

"A citizen recognized by the sound of a dog barking that the animal was in distress," Kanicki said. "The individual proceeded to look into the area that the distressed sound was coming from and he saw the dog severely entangled. She could not move, one leg was missing and the other leg was entangled. She was very close to losing the second leg had she not been found when she was. He called 911 and officers were sent out to the area, which is normal in an emergency situation like this."

Saginaw County Animal Care and Control

Do you know someone who specializes in helping dogs recover emotionally from life threatening traumas?

If so, please contact Saginaw County Animal Care and Control


Phone: 989-797-4500

Bella was tied to a steel cable. It is believed that she chewed off her back left leg an entire week before this call, according to Kanicki. It's a miracle that she didn't bleed out.

After the call, the organization was able to get Bella immediate veterinary care from its in-house vet.

"Fortunately, our veterinarian was available to do an emergency evaluation on her," she continued. "The officers brought her right to our medical room at the shelter to do the initial evaluation on her."

Bella is the property of Saginaw County Animal Care and Control. Members of the organization are searching for a rescue that specializes in working with animals that have experienced life-threatening traumas, like Bella, before she can be adopted.

"Due to the trauma that she has experienced, she is going to need a subject matter expert to help her recover emotionally through the trauma that she experienced," Kanicki said. "She is somewhat protective of her food, which is certainly understandable because we found her living in the dirt, starving to the degree that she had eaten off her own leg."

Since Bella was found, support for her online has been quite amazing, according to Kanicki. People Magazine reached out about doing a story on her and people make donations to Animal Control specifically intended for Bella. And, Michigan State Police Trooper Andrea Sutton launched an online fundraiser for Bella's veterinary expenses, raising $600 in one day.

“Because it hit the media very fast and it’s a pretty unprecedented story about animal cruelty, people really had a heart for her,” Kanicki said.

Kanicki, in her 31 years with law enforcement and her 2.5 years with Saginaw County Animal Care and Control, has never seen anything like Bella's case, where people were blatantly dismissive toward the life of an animal to an extreme extent.

"This is by far one of the worst cases of extreme abuse I have seen," she said. "With the horrible storms that came through, she was left out there on her own. There was no regard for her health or welfare."

Bella's previous owner, a Saginaw woman, is no longer a person of interest in the agency’s investigation and agreed to sign over ownership, according to MLive.

“She was initially cooperative,” Kanicki said. “Now she is supposedly living in a homeless shelter in Grand Rapids.”

Kanicki explained that Bella’s previous owner had been a suspect in a domestic violence incident against another woman who lived at the address where the dog was found. Police arrested the owner, who on being released from jail relocated to Grand Rapids, leaving Bella with the woman she had allegedly assaulted, who did not properly care for Bella, Kanicki said.

Once animal control officers have completed their investigation, they will send their reports to the Saginaw County Prosecutor's Office for review.

Despite enduring a horrific past, Bella loves people. Everybody wants to take her home, Kanicki said.

"We are so very grateful for the stories highlighting Bella's progress and hold hope for a bright future for her. Thank you so very much for all the support to her," reads a Facebook post by Saginaw County Animal Care and Control.