6 min read

Dog Left Outside Every Night Of The Year Finally Comes In From The Cold

When Iowa saw a lot of snow and cold, so did Bella.

The Dodo reported on Bella back in November - the dog who spent most of her time chained in the back of a house in the small town of New Providence.

But if winter storm Jonas has its way, a major swathe of the U.S., including Iowa, could see a particularly heavy helping of hellish weather.

Maybe that's why Bella hasn't been seen in her usual spot lately.

Or maybe it's true, as her owner contends, the dog doesn't live there any more.

Or maybe the clamoring of local residents, animal welfare groups and even the sheriff has finally gotten through to her owners.

"I drove by yesterday and she wasn't out there," Amy Haas-Gray, who lives about five miles from Bella's home, told The Dodo on Thursday.

Despite the distance, Haas-Grey, who runs Hardin Eldora Animal Rescue Team (HEART) has been able to keep tabs on the lonesome dog over the years, mostly through concerned local contacts who have witnessed the whole heartbreaking scene.

The photographs, taken by locals, are telling.

Here's Bella in summer.

Hardin Eldora Animal Rescue Team

Here's Bella last November.

Hardin Eldora Animal Rescue Team

Here's Bella around Christmas.

Hardin Eldora Animal Rescue Team

Here's Bella last week.

Hardin Eldora Animal Rescue Team

She remained outside despite a rash of recent headlines about dogs left in the cold who have frozen to death.

Earlier this month a Michigan woman was charged with animal cruelty after her puppy was found frozen to death in her yard. The owner claims she fell asleep and forgot about the 6-month-old pit bull.

Most recently, two dogs in New Jersey, a puppy and presumably his mother, died after being left outside in the bitter cold.

Their water bowls were reportedly frozen solid.

The sordid stories go on and on and on.

On Friday, by some still undetermined mercy, Bella wasn't outside.

When reached by The Dodo via email, Bella's owner Nicole Guiles claimed she no longer has the dog.

"My dog is being well cared for," she wrote, refusing to comment any further on Bella's condition.

Haas-Gray is skeptical. Her organization offered the family $500 for the dog recently - an overture, she says, that was rejected.

Dogs in New Providence, like in many cities, could benefit mightily from anti-tethering laws adopted in other cities like Tucson, Arizona, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, that limit or ban tying dogs outside.

"We've taken that to city council," Haas-Gray explains. "That was one of the steps we tried to take. And after several meetings, they literally threw us out and told us not to come back."

At the very least, New Providence could consider vital cold-weather legislation, like a law in Montgomery County, Maryland, that outlaws leaving dogs outside during extreme cold weather.

But for now, amid the icy apex of winter, perhaps we might just be grateful that Ice Station Bella is unoccupied.

Bella isn't alone out there. In Iowa, Haas-Gray sees countless dogs at the end of leashes amid harrowing weather.

"She's caught everyone's attention and that's great," she says of Bella. "But she's not the only one."

Join the fight for anti-tethering laws in your community, as well as the efforts of organizations like HEART and IFAW.