Best Friends Blog

Bela is coming to Best Friends

Merry Christmas Bela! We are thrilled to announce that Bela has been released to Best Friends Animal Society and we are currently arranging his transport to our sanctuary in Kanab, Utah where he will celebrate a warm, happy holiday with lots of treats, toys and love.

Bela is safe! We first told you about Bela’s story on the blog last week. Be sure to celebrate with us by following his step-by-step journey to the sanctuary on our Facebook page.

Over the last few days we have learned more about Bela from the deceased’s attorney and friends. Bela has a history of intermittent aggression and his owner, Connie Ley was concerned about the appropriate care and management of him after her death given Bela’s special needs. Her attorney and her designated friend, charged to decide what was best for Bela, were unaware of Best Friends experience in providing appropriate care for dogs like Bela. According to the estate attorney: “It was this lack of information and the unfounded social media backlash about Connie Ley, myself, and the provisions in her will about her pets, that caused the delay in resolving Bela’s future.” In addition Best Friends first learned about Bela from media reports.

At Best Friends, we believe that the life of every animal has intrinsic value and we will always do our level best to help Save Them All, which is at the core of our mission. Our trainers and animal behavior specialists will work with Bela so that he will have every opportunity to enjoy a full and rich life. Of all those party to the unfolding events following Connie Ley’s passing, Bela has experienced the trauma of losing his life-long companion and his home. Our first priority is to do everything we can to make Bela’s life whole once again in keeping with Connie Ley’s wishes for her beloved dog.

There are many people to thank for their part in this, but we’d like to especially thank P.A.W.S of Dearborn County who have been taking great care of Bela while this all played out. And with thanks to all concerned, another life has been saved.

Bela’s situation is a poignant reminder that our animals are our family, and families need to plan for their pets who survive them.

Best Friends and a few other animal organizations offer a lifetime care program. These programs typically guarantee a safe haven or loving home for a pet for life. However, it is something that should be planned for in advance, and organized between you and the organization. You should never assume any organization will have space to take your animal without making prior arrangements. Most operate at capacity to try to save as many animals as possible. For information on the Best Friends planned giving options, click here.

For all concerned, Bela is in good hands and will enjoy a safe and very merry Christmas and a happy future at Best Friends!

Please show your support for Bela coming Best Friends by adding your positive message for Bela to have a safe journey by using the #Hashtag #BelaIsSafe.

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Francis Battista
Best Friends Animal Society

(Photo credit: Partners for Animal Welfare Society of Dearborn County)

  • Andrea

    I am so happy , good luck bela on your journey to your new home .

  • Peggy White

    This makes me very happy! What a relief. God bless Bella and Merry Christmas to all!

  • ND


  • Karen

    I am so happy for Bela and so grateful for those who made this happen. I’m sure the hoopla and ire of the world community were hard to experience, but I wonder if that isn’t what needed to happen to ensure that Best Friends got involved and rescued her? Thanks to all! You’ve given me a happy thought to brighten my Christmas.

  • Patti

    What great news for Bella. We have a shepherd that looks just like him. Also great reminders to make sure our pets get taken care of when we are no longer here. Merry Christmas to all

  • Denise Farringer

    Merry Christmas, Bela and safe travels

  • Raelene

    Thank you for taking Bela! God bless you all!

  • Andy

    Suzanne and I want to say again, like we have SO many times…thank you Best Friends. You have saved Mother life and we are absolutely sure he’ll have the brightest and happiest future possible with you. And we know that you will do everything possible to ensure this future. And thank god forb whoever made the decision, the fair and right one, to preserve his life and let him live the remainder of his years in happiness and total peace. Best Friends thank you for everything you have done, and continue to do. Happy Holidays to everyone 🙂

  • Melodie Hutchinson

    great news! Bela will have a Merry Christmas after all! Thanks Best Friends for all you do!!

  • Desi N.

    I am so happy for Bela. I wish we could have Bela. We adopted Hogan from the APL where he was in mourning from the loss of his original owner. He grieved and was depressed for the first month we had him. Bela and Hogan look just alike. Hogan is a very wonderful dog…..he warms our heart’s daily. We love him so much.

  • Carol Minkus

    IMO it is unconscionable that the Owner’s wishes in HER WILL were not carried out. I have made similar provisions for both my dogs should something happen to me. God forbid they are not carried out!!

    • Amidon Tonya

      Well God forbid your pet dies first I hope they put you down right after. Shellfish Human.

    • Cheryl Mickelson

      I’ve re-read the article and there were 2 choices. 1. for him to be “put down” and 2… to go to this shelter in Utah. I for one am happy that he got to go to the shelter. Merry Christmas Bela. I hope you have many happy years there.

    • jondunn


      I think you’ve misunderstood this situation. I’ve read the will, and Ms. Ley was very specific that there were two options for Bela. One that he be sent to Best Friends – or if the friends designated in her will felt that Best Friends was not the best option for Bela – then he be put to sleep.

      After letting her friend, and the estate attorney know about our programs, and the kind of care we can provide for Bela, they decided that Best Friends was indeed the right option.

      We believe Ms. Ley would be thrilled with this outcome, knowing that her beloved pet is able to live on in the caring hands of our organization.

      Thank you,

      Jon Dunn
      Best Friends Animal Society

    • Susan Hager

      Disappointing to know that you have so little trust in the goodness of organizations like Best Friends to care for animals, that just because you are dead, your dogs should be killed. I love my dogs very much and if any or all of them outlive me, I have made provisions for them to be cared for by others who will treat them as well as I did. They shouldn’t have to die just because I did.

    • Indy010

      I pity your dogs Carol.

    • Carol Minkus

      WOW, I just LOVE to see all these bashing replies from people who have no idea what my personal situation is nor have they walked in my shoes. I pity you for your quick judgment 🙁

      • Rose

        Carol Minkus, then why do you jump so quick to judgement yourself on Bela’s situation? The information on Bela’s situation is publicly available and easily found – Ms Ley provided for her dog, Bela, to go to Best Friends – this was one of the options in her will. Yet knowing this information you have not wished Bela well. Why is that?

      • linda

        Whatever your “personal situation” is, it does not justify putting down healthy animals, in order to carry out your wishes after you are dead! THAT would be the ultimate act of selfishness, if a loving home could be found for your animals.

    • MavenOTF .

      What is unconscionable, Carol, is that your idea of ‘ provisions’ would translate into rendering an animal unconscious, and then terminating its life. Your ‘provisions’ are not only lazy, but irresponsible and heartless. You and PETA would get along nicely. I would plan for loving family and friends to take over guardianship, and if you want to make REAL provisions for them, create a fund for future veterinarian care. It is narcissistic to feel no one could care for your dogs like you do. They would miss you, but with a little love they would be just fine.

  • Beth Test

    Once again Best Friends shows it’s steadfast dedication to saving animals despite difficult circumstances. Very grateful Bela will receive the warm loving environment BF provides to nurture and ultimately enable it’s charges to have a second chance at the life they so richly deserve. Have a great holiday dear Bela, welcome home!!

  • Lisa Stalcup


  • Lisa Stalcup

    #save bela

  • Lisa Stalcup

    This is truly a merry Christmas now,I’ve worried myself sick over this.thank you to all involved that helped save bela.Have a great life bela.merry Christmas.I don’t want to miss a step of your journey.thank god.another life saved.

  • Janet Taylor

    Merry Christmas Bella, My thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless Best Friends, Merry Christmas to you too.

  • Joan Blatz

    I have been a member of BF for at least 5 years and I am so proud of what they do. I am hoping to spend a week there next year if they’ll take a 75 year old dog lover. Merry Christmas to Bela and Best Friends!!

  • Gregg McQuarrie

    Bella you couldn’t be in better hands anywhere on the planet 🙂

  • Sandra

    Thank you, Best Friends!! What a blessing you are!! Save them all!!

  • SLV00

    Great news…great job you did for this Dog!

  • Desiree Floyd

    Thank you SO much! This is such wonderful news! Merry Christmas Bela. May you enjoy a long and happy life!!

  • christine zook

    So happy for u Bela

  • Michelle Peace

    How wonderful! So happy for Bella. Merry Christmas sweet doggy, may you be blessed with a loving family.

  • wendy

    Thank you BEST FRIENDS. !!!!!!!!! Great News

  • LarryfromdaHillHood

    Christmas morning at BF is the best! Heres to our angels…2 legged, 3 legged, and 4 legged. As usual the care giver alumni are so proud of our present BF staffers who made this happen, and totally love our members. This happened because we are one family!!!
    Love to life every where!
    “…don’t cry for the ones that are here…cry for the ones that aren’t…act to save lives locally…”