“Bella” A Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Dies A Hero in Her Owners Arms
Nicole Russell, who lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, was about to leave for work one morning when a car pulled up and four armed men jumped out and demanded her keys and purse. Nicole held both arms out so that they could take her jewelry and keys. Scared and confused she rushed to comply with their demands not realizing that she had mistakenly handed them her house keys.
The men became agitated and violent when the keys would not unlock the car. When one of the men grabbed her and began dragging her towards the car Ms. Russell (in fear for her life) screamed. Russell’s mother, alerted by the screams pushed a panic button in the house and ran into the garden.
There she was confronted by an attacker with a knife.
Bella, the family’s 4 year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was with the mother and immediately lunged at the knife wielding attacker. Bella bit the man several times on the leg and was then shot in the head by one of the mans accomplices. In spite of her injury Bella continued to defend her family until the men panicked and fled.
There was a point when one of the men (having just shot at Bella) turned his gun on Nichole and pulled the trigger. But either the gun misfired or Bella had taken the bullet intended for Russell.
When the men were gone Bella sat down and rolled over and as Nicole held the hero dog Bella in her arms. Bella looked at her quietly for a few moments and died.
An autopsy showed that Bella’s heart had been completely drained of blood in her fierce battle to protect her family.
On November 8, 1997 “Bella” was awarded posthumously a seven ring rosette trophy for her selfless heroism defending her family.