6 min read

Dog Chained Outside Digs Hole For Her Puppies To Keep Them Safe

“It’s likely that her strong maternal instincts and dedication to caring for her puppies, despite the tough situation she was in, is what kept them alive.”

Bella knew she had to keep her puppies safe, so she did the only thing she could — she dug a shallow ditch, placed the puppies inside of it and stood guard over them. 

Bella, a 5-year-old Siberian husky mix, was one of 46 animals found at a property in Henderson, Texas, in June. A woman living on the property had “owned” these animals, including 28 dogs, nine kittens, six puppies, two cats and one turtle. However, the woman wasn’t doing much to care for the animals, and when a rescue team from the SPCA of Texas arrived, they didn’t have adequate food, water or shelter.

Chained dog protecting newborn puppies
Bella protecting her newborn puppies | SPCA of Texas

Sadly, help had come too late for some — the bodies of several dead animals were found scattered around the property.

Some of the animals who were still alive were locked up in cages, and many of the dogs were living with heavy chains around their necks.

Chained dog on hoarder's property
One of the chained dogs found on the Texas property | SPCA of Texas

“The SPCA of Texas’ Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit had to use bolt cutters to free some of the dogs,” Kristen Kerr, digital communications specialist for SPCA of Texas, told The Dodo. “The chains had rubbed some of the dogs’ necks raw.”

Not surprisingly, the animals were in really poor health.

Kitten rescued from hoarder's property
One of the kittens rescued from the Texas property | SPCA of Texas

“They were suffering from various health issues, including hair loss, long nails, eye discharge and flea infestation,” Kerr said. “Most of the dogs tested positive for heartworms, which the SPCA of Texas provided treatment for.”

Neglected husky inside makeshift shelter
SPCA of Texas

“Their emotional state was fragile,” Kerr added. “A lot of these dogs were reserved and unsure of human touch. The SPCA of Texas staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to help these animals learn to trust and to accept a nice, loving touch.”

Neglected dog inside old house
SPCA of Texas

But it was Bella and her six puppies who really tugged at rescuers’ heartstrings.

“The only protection she had from the elements was the little shade the tree was providing,” Kerr said. “She had access to food, but water was not easily accessible and what little was there was dirty.”

Chained dog trying to protect her puppies
Bella trying to protect her puppies on the Texas property | SPCA of Texas

Despite living in terrible conditions, Bella did everything she could to protect her puppies.

“Bella had dug a hole for her puppies, right beside where she was found chained, so that they could be cool and protected,” Kerr said. "The puppies were only a day or two old when we rescued them.”

People holding rescued puppies in their hands
Rescuers holding Bella's puppies | SPCA of Texas

“It’s likely that her strong maternal instincts and dedication to caring for her puppies, despite the tough situation she was in, is what kept them alive,” Madeline Yeaman, communications specialist for the SPCA of Texas, told The Dodo. 

Thankfully, all the animals on the property got the help they needed. After receiving emergency medical care, the dogs, cats and turtle were placed in secure and loving foster homes.

Mother dog with one of her puppies
Bella with one of her puppies in foster care | SPCA of Texas

“The most emotional part of this case was watching these initially shut-down and reserved animals find confidence, happiness and optimism through the compassion and love that the SPCA of Texas’ team provides,” Kerr said.

Bella’s six puppies got to spend several happy months with their mom in foster care. And when the puppies were big enough, they all got adopted by loving families. Bella did too.

Rescued dog sleeping on dog bed
SPCA of Texas

“Because of our foster program, Bella and her puppies were able to get a second chance, and they all found loving and forever homes,” Kerr said. “The puppies were adopted at an offsite event, and Bella was adopted through our Foster Ambassador Program.”

“Bella’s wonderful foster mom helped pick the perfect home for Bella — a home where she could thrive and finally find peace,” Kerr added.

Rescue dog smiling at forever home
SPCA of Texas

To see updates on Bella and her puppies, you can follow the Facebook page for the SPCA of Texas. If you’re interested in adopting a rescue dog, cat or other animal, you can look at the adoptable animals on the SPCA of Texas website. Or, check out Dodo Adoptbot, an interactive guide for new pet parents. Get started on Facebook Messenger or text HOME to 38349.