Northampton

Stolen Rothwell dog Bella back home after four-month disappearance

Bella the springer spaniel Image copyright Osborne family
Image caption It is not known how Bella ended up in Bristol

A dog stolen in Northamptonshire and found four months later in Bristol has settled back in with her family "like she's never been away".

Bella, an English springer spaniel, was taken from outside Tesco in Rothwell in October. CCTV showed a man untying her.

Earlier this week, she was found 130 miles (210km) away in Bristol and reunited with the Osborne family.

Her owner said she was "in very good spirits" but her paw injuries "suggested she had tried to escape".

Sarah and Philip Osborne had been searching for Bella since she was stolen moments after Mr Osborne popped into the shop.

Image caption The springer spaniel appeared happy to be reunited with her family

After four months she was spotted by a shopkeeper in Bristol, who took her inside believing her to be a stray.

"A family came in trying to claim her, but the woman refused to hand Bella over because she was cowering under the counter," Mr Osborne said.

Image copyright Osborne family
Image caption Four-and-a-half year-old Bella has settled in at home "like she's never been away"

Bella was scanned and her microchip led the RSPCA to the Osbornes.

'Desperately unhappy'

They were reunited with Bella in Bristol on Wednesday.

Back home, Mr Osborne said 48 hours after her ordeal ended, Bella had settled in well, recognised all the old smells and "most bizarrely it's like she's never been away".

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Media captionA dog that went missing in Rothwell has been found over 130 miles away in Bristol.

However, she needs on-going treatment for several injuries sustained during her time away.

"She had been well-fed, but has sores on her paws where she'd been scratching to get out of wherever she was," Mr Osborne said.

She also has problems with her ears, eyes and gums.

Image caption Sarah Osborne said it was "pretty amazing" when she got the call Bella had been found

"Bella must have been desperately unhappy.

"She smelt like a farmyard so must have been kept outside which is not what Bella knows," he added.

Mr Osborne took her for her first proper walk on Thursday evening.

Image copyright Osborne family

"We were swamped by people asking about Bella. It was 45 minutes before we could finish our walk," he said.

"I just want people to know how important it is to microchip your pets. The chip is the be-all and end-all."

Northamptonshire and Bristol Police are investigating.

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