Dogs who spent whole lives shut inside crates now free and ‘embracing life with enthusiasm’

RSPCA staff were left in tears after waving off two dogs, who’d spent their whole lives shut in crates and never experienced the outside world, to their new homes.

Six-year-old poodle cross dogs Bella and Lila arrived in RSPCA care in February 2021 and were completely shut down, terrified of everything and in a real state.

RSPCA Martlesham Animal Centre, in Suffolk, took the pair in after they were rescued by inspectors. They’d been signed over by their owners having spent the first six years of their lives shut in a crate.

Kennel supervisor Natalie Wood said: “Bella and Lila had led such restricted, sheltered lives and we believe they’d only had very limited time out of their crates, so they’d barely experienced the outside world. They were completely shut down and were terrified of everything and everyone.

“Their coats were matted and dirty, tangled with urine and faeces. They had fleas, their nails were overgrown, their ears were thick with dirt and their teeth were covered in plaque. Both were displaying extremely fearful behaviours and we were unable to approach them or handle them.”

Staff spent weeks gaining the girls’ trust, assessing them and developing rehabilitation plans to help prepare them for new homes.

Natalie added: “It took two months until we were able to take Lila out for her first walk off the site, and a further month until Bella would venture outside the safety of the centre with us. That was a huge milestone for us.

“After months of slow and gradual work we had a breakthrough in May when Lila, who’d developed a strong bond with our kennel assistant, Lucy, learned to rush over to her when she arrived at her kennel each morning and put her paws onto her shoulders as if to give her a hug. It was a beautiful moment.”

Jemima has left her old life – and name – behind

Lila – now renamed Jemima (pictured above) – was adopted by Deborah Turpin and her family, from Suffolk, to live with their eight-year-old retired racing greyhound, Sam. They were looking for another dog after losing their border terrier and spotted Jemima’s profile online.

“Her video was heartbreaking and I just couldn’t get her out of my mind,” Deborah said. “What she’d been through was unimaginable and I knew we had to give her a chance. We decided to rename her as we wanted her to leave her old life, and her old name, behind her.”

The family collected Jemima in October and set about helping her settle in her new home.

“She is an absolute dream, she’s such a superstar,” Deborah added. “She has a wonderful personality and is so affectionate. She rushes up to us every morning to give us a cuddle; she obviously has six years of cuddles to make up for! We had no idea we needed a little white curly-haired dog as much as we do!

“The most enormous credit goes to the team at Martlesham who helped her after what she went through; they instilled such confidence in her. We’re overwhelmed by the work that they did with her and how easy they’ve made the process for us.

“Now Jemima is becoming quite cheeky and loves to spend time with us. She is so happy, has wonderful manners, and is very clever and eager to learn. She loved her first visit to the beach, enjoys going in the car, and had a fabulous first Christmas.

“She is an absolute joy and embraces life with enormous enthusiasm. She has every reason to hate everybody, but she is so happy and is game for everything!”

Bella, who was adopted by a family from Scotland, has also settled into her new home. Her new owner said: “Bella is doing really well; we feel very fortunate to have her!”

To help the RSPCA rescue more animals in need, like Bella and Jemima, please visit www.rspca.org.uk/give to donate.

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