Alaqua Animal Refuge Pet of the Year

Jill Tanner

There is a diamond in the rough at Alaqua Animal Refuge and her name is Bel. It seems as though this is one diamond that people overlook and we’ve figured out why. Have you ever seen a raw diamond before it’s shown some love? It blends in. Bel has blended in for a whole year at Alaqua and people don’t see her shine. She has been sad and stays inside her house a lot.

Bel returned to Alaqua recently after graduating from the Unconditional Love Program. During her stay at Bay Correctional Facility, she became deeply bonded to her trainer over the four months she was there and she misses him very much. In a closing letter about Bel to us her trainer said, “A closing suggestion, if possible, would be to expedite Bel’s stay at the shelter as I fear her modicum of social skills may begin to wane.” He was right. She is sad here and turning in. But if you watch her in the play yard with her friends and people, she is playful, happy and she shines like a diamond in the rough.

“Bel is a loving, affectionate, smart, and loyal dog…,” said Bel’s trainer.

Bel is our undiscovered treasure. She is a wonderful, beautiful dog that deserves a loving home where she will be given a chance to bond, love, and trust again. She loves walks, people, and has shown that she does well with children 10 and older. Alaqua is a lovely place, but no dog should stay a year. One year feels like an eternity to a dog. Watch Bel’s movie ( to see how wonderful she really is.

Jill Tanner is director of development at Alaqua Animal Refuge in Freeport and can be reached at