|Deresa Teller and Bella|
Possibly the most renowned search canine in our nation's history, Bella was deployed with Deresa to the Oklahoma City bombing, World Trade Center attacks and countless other official assignments.
Bella remains one of the few canines to have attained formal certification in wilderness search, disaster rescue and cadaver recovery. She was in every sense of the word, a 'wonder dog'.
In our country's darkest hours, Bella shouldered the hopes of a nation. Our profound sense of loss is lessened only in knowing that her grandson Ranger and other descendents are today exhibiting the same prowess that made Bella a preeminent search and rescue canine.
|Deresa Teller and Bella|
In early 2001, Bella was diagnosed with a troubling form of cancer in her right foreleg. Once word spread that costly radiation treatments could not be municipally funded - or afforded by heartbroken Teller, a stunning groundswell of community support allowed Bella's necessary treatment, cure and return to readiness.
In August 2001, she helped Ventura County, California authorities locate the body of missing murder victim Megan Barroso in a rugged ravine near Simi Valley.
Bella was medically cleared for her full return to 'disaster response' duty on a bright and cheerful Monday morning, September 10, 2001.
Firefighter/Paramedic Teller could not have known that little more than 24 hours later, she and Bella would be aboard a military cargo jet headed for New York, where they helped find approximately 20 victims of the terrorist attacks.
Less than six months following the cowardly attacks in Manhattan, Bella and Deresa were again deployed with the LAFD-FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (CA-TF1); in this case to maintain a vigilant regional presence during the sixteen-day Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
In these and other deployments, as well as countless public outreach events during her long and eventful life, Bella was not merely a member of our LAFD family, but also a well-respected and readily embraced ambassador for our nation's first responders and specialized rescue teams.
Bella formally entered retirement in 2003, at nearly eleven years old. When not herding chickens for enjoyment at home, the playful yet gentle Bella could be found comfortably cuddled with a stuffed toy lamb she had since she was a puppy.
In closing, I am honored to share a photo of Bella and I taken upon her safe return from the Oklahoma City bombing:
|Brian Humphrey with Bella|
Farewell sweet Bella, from one of many who will dearly miss you.
Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department