File photo: It was reported that the owner had had Bella since 2010 but a new boyfriend did not like her as she has bad hips and legs. Picture: Flickr.com

London - When Jane Harper saw a dog floating at the side of a river, she feared it was already dead.

But then she saw the female Belgian shepherd blink and leapt into action. She waded in and tried to haul the dog out, only to find she had been weighed down in a deliberate attempt to drown her.

"I saw a lead wrapped around her leg, and a blue line that was leading down to something submerged," she said Tuesday.

Lifting the dog from the river, Harper untangled the line and discovered it was attached to a shopping bag containing a large rock. "I imagine she literally fought to get her head above water and managed to rest it on a step," she said.

"How could anyone do this to her? I don’t know how long she had been in the water but I don’t think she could have survived much longer. It was just so cruel." 

They wrapped the dog in clothing. Police were called and she was identified from her microchip as Bella. She is recovering at a local vet’s.

Harper, managing director of a recruitment firm, was walking by the Trent at Farndon, Nottinghamshire, with friends and their dogs at 8.45am on Monday when they spotted Bella. She said: "When I first saw her I thought she must have drowned. I just wanted to do the decent thing and get her out.

"But then we saw her blink. She was so weak I guess it was the only way she could communicate with us. I’m still in shock as to how someone could do such a thing to a dog."

It was reported that the owner had had Bella since 2010 but a new boyfriend did not like her as she has bad hips and legs. A man, 32, and a woman, 31, arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty have been released under investigation.

Daily Mail