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Wildlife Recovery Dog, Bella, Back in Unity Home

Unity — Bella, the wildlife recovery dog who went missing last week while tracking a wounded deer in Claremont, has been found.

Owners Diane and Rob Richardson, of Unity, said Sunday a stranger discovered Bella outside his Claremont doorstep early Sunday morning, about two miles away from where she was last seen, and that Bella is at home recovering from a long list of injuries.

Diane Richardson said there were “lots of tears” on Sunday when the Richardsons were reconnected with the dog — who showed signs that she was thankful, too.

“She’s really tried so she was just moving very slowly, but her tail was moving, so she was really happy,” Diane Richardson said.

The 4-year-old dog was missing for a total of 58 hours after she backed out of her harness on Thursday.

Rob Richardson had decided to call off the “track” of a wounded deer for the night, but Bella did not want to stop, and bolted away. They searched for hours with no luck, and also started posting ‘missing’ posters on street poles and online.

They eventually found the dead deer and Bella’s footprints around it, as well as an impression on the ground where she had slept waiting for them.

Diane Richardson said they got a call around 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning from the microchip company, alerting them that the Claremont resident who discovered Bella had called in her mirochip number.

When the Richardsons arrived, the man declined a $100 reward that they tried to give him, Diane Richardson said, and then they quickly whisked her back home and called the veterinarian for an emergency off-hours appointment. Bella’s feet were swollen, skin was ripped off her legs, and she was having an allergic reaction on her face, Diane Richardson said.

Diane Richardson said she and Rob had removed more than 200 ticks from the dog.

“I stopped counting,” she said.

She credited clear identification on Bella, including a microchip, dog tag and tattoo on her belly, for helping the saga to end on a happy note.

Bella is having difficulty walking and will likely have to return to the vet this week, Diane Richardson said.

On Sunday night, though, she was in relaxation mode, sitting next to the fire with Rob while Diane talked on the phone.