#SaveBela: Push to save local dog goes viral - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

#SaveBela: Push to save local dog goes viral

#SaveBela has virtually gone viral worldwide (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Cincinnati) #SaveBela has virtually gone viral worldwide (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Cincinnati)

FOX 19 NOW brought you the story first last week and since then, it has gone viral.

[Related: Euthanasia of dog put on hold]

Bela is a 9-year-old German Shepherd in Dearborn County. His owner Connie Lay died inside her home last month. Bela was taken by animal control to PAWS of Dearborn County. In Lay's will, she asked Bela be taken to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah, the largest no-kill animal rescue in the country. If that was not possible, she asked Bela be put down and her ashes mixed with her own.

The dog was set to be put down last Tuesday but the appointment was put on hold. Since then, Bela's story has went viral appearing on national networks like CNN and FOX News Channel.

FOX 19 NOW has received emails, phone calls and social media posts from around the world including Canada, South Africa and Great Britain. On Twitter the hashtag #SaveBela is everywhere and his story is being told in several different languages.

"We saw it online. Somebody had picked it up. It was an internet story,” said Michael Perez with Animal Network in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Perez says given the affection most people have for their pets, he is not surprised at the response Bela's story has received.

"Everybody is upset because you know it is so easy to rehabilitate a dog or send a dog to a sanctuary near where he is,” said Perez.

According to his owner's will, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah is the only rescue that can take her dog. Best Friends has agreed but says the decision is up to the woman named in the will in charge of Bela's care who could instead choose to have Bela put down and his ashes mixed with his owner's. So far, no decision has been made public.

While the attorney for the estate Doug Denmore told FOX19 NOW limited finances in the estate were keeping Bela from making the trip to Utah, Best Friends says that isn't an issue. Denmore also says Lay kept a record of the dog's aggressive behavior. FOX19 NOW found no records regarding Bela's alleged aggressive behavior with Dearborn County Animal Control or the Dearborn County Health Department.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary specializes in aggressive behavior. 22 dogs seized from NFL star Michael Vick's home amid a dog-fighting scandal were rehabilitated at Best Friends.

While Best Friends insists financing the trip is not an issue it hasn't stopped hundreds of emails, phone calls and social media posts from people across the country willing to fund Bela's trip to Utah.

Michael Avery who owns Pet Express Transportation Service in Hebron, Kentucky has volunteered to take Bela to Best Friends himself if only the estate will spare the German Shepherd's life.

"This animal has a place to go and if it is in fact the place that was mentioned by her where she would like him to go then the goal is to get him out there,” said Avery.

PAWS of Dearborn County is not in any way associated with the decision. They are simply caring for Bela until the estate works out the details. PAWS says since Bela's story became public daily adoptions have at least doubled perhaps even tripled. While hundreds have offered to adopt Bela, PAWS wishes those same good homes will make room for one of the several who have lived at their shelter for more than a year this Christmas.

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