Dog who gnawed off own leg to desperately save herself finds forever home

A beautiful three-legged dog who survived the most tragic start to life has finally found an adoptive family to call her own.

Pit bull Bella was abandoned as a puppy and left to die in her owner's back garden with no food, water or shelter.

Just one year old, she was tied up outdoors for weeks on end, tangled in two steel cables.

Bella became incredibly malnourished and underweight, and in a desperate attempt to escape, she chewed off her own back leg.

Her painful cries alerted a member of the public to her distress and ultimately saved her life.

Bella was found in Saginaw, Michigan, US, by a concerned passer-by who alerted her to authorities.

Within minutes, a Saginaw County Animal Care and Control officer, Desiree Sage, arrived at the scene.

Sage said: "Walking into the backyard and seeing Bella in such distress that day was unimaginably gut-wrenching.

"Against all odds, Bella overcame being left for dead."

Her back leg was still trapped in the cable and Desiree had to carefully free her from the tethers.

Despite her living nightmare, Bella still wagged her tail with glee at the relief of being rescued.

The poorly pit bull was immediately treated for her physical injuries, and vets reassured rescuers that she would survive.

Her leg began to heal and she adjusted well to life on three feet instead of four.

Staff were concerned about Bella's mental trauma and wanted to place her somewhere that specialised in cases like hers, so they reached out to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the largest no-kill pet shelter in the area.

On January 15, she travelled the 1,800 mile journey to their centre in Kanab, Utah - which was funded by kind donations from supporters, Bob and Pat Schust.

Desiree and her colleague, Abbe Balderstone, drove Bella and said their final goodbyes when she arrived safely at the sanctuary.

"She was the best travel companion," Sage said.

While Bella looked for a new family to take her in, authorities managed to track down her owner and charges were pressed for their neglect.

In February, Kim Diehl and Jason Reding from Rockport, Illinois, visited Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in the hopes of finding a pet after the death of their senior pit bull.

Kim said: "The rest is history. Bella just has an irresistible face. It was love at first sight.

"We brought her to stay with us at the sanctuary's onsite cottages for a week. She's so energetic and has such a bubbly personality. We grew to love her even more."

The couple applied to adopt Bella and took her home to Illinois on March 24 - the exact same day her abuser was charged with animal cruelty.

Bella was thrilled to see the couple and left with a wide grin on her face, as if she knew she was finally home.

"Her back story is very sad and it’s too bad that she had to go through that, but we intend to make up for all of that," Kim said. "We intend to spoil her rotten."

Bella has gotten a lot of well-deserved sleep in her new warm bed, right beside her owners.