The maternity saga of Bella, the Rottweiler that gave birth in a neighbor’s living room unbeknownst to that Apalachicola family, appears to have reached what seems to be, at least for the time being, a happy ending.

As Apalachicola Times readers may recall, the family of Apalachicola residents Matt and Amy Hersey, upon their return from a Christmas holiday trip to central Florida, discovered the dog, owned by their neighbor Direek Farmer, had left them a male puppy.

The puppy was taken quickly by animal control, and because of its fragile condition, was given over to the Franklin County Humane Society. After several days, Amy Hersey was able to secure Bella as she roamed outdoors, and the new mom was taken to animal control, where she remained as officials determined how they would handle the matter.

Here’s what’s happened since.

“The puppy came to us with a pretty serious upper respiratory infection,” said Karen Martin, director of the humane society.

Eastpoint veterinarian Dr. Hobson Fulmer ordered the puppy be put immediately on antibiotics, and because he required a bottle feeding every couple hours, the puppy was placed in a foster home within the county.

“We would not have been able to care for him in the shelter situation,” Martin said. “He was sick and he’s tiny.”

She noted that the unusual birthing situation did not cause the puppy’s distress. “Puppies don’t get sick from night air. They get viruses and bacteria just like humans,” said Martin.

After two weeks on antibiotics, which the family calls Stanley, the puppy is doing well. “He’s growing, he’s eating well,” she said. “He was quite sick and would not have survived if measures hadn’t been taken to get him.”

Animal Control Director Fonda Davis said that while Farmer has not officially owner-surrendered the puppy, the animal is now completely under the auspices of the humane society. Neither Davis nor Martin said they have spoken to Farmer about the mixed breed puppy.

“I would like to be able to rehome this puppy,” said Martin. “I think this puppy would be much better off in a different situation.”

She said the foster family would get first dibs on Stanley. “It’s a loving courtesy that most shelters extend,” said Martin.

As for Bella, Davis said that after a determination was made the dog was not dangerous, animal control gave the dog back to Farmer, provided he paid about $350 in fines and fees, including paying to clean the Hersey’s interior where the expectant dog had underwent her miracle of nature.

All told, Farmer had to pay $75 for having the dog running at large. $75 for her causing a nuisance, $100 to cover the room, board and other humane care she required, and $105 for the costs sustained by the Hersey’s on their property.

Davis said he returned the dog to Farmer on the strict condition he keep her under his thumb. As it turned out, Bella yearned for greener pastures, and it didn’t take long for her to soon be visiting neighbors.

Davis said that after looking carefully into what happened, animal control decided Bella had gotten free through no fault of Farmer’s.

“We’ve been monitoring the dog,” he said. “There was no sign of the dog breaking loose. There was no sign of the chain or collar being broke. It didn’t cause any nuisance. It appears somebody let the dog off the chain.”

The case is set to be resolved on Thursday morning, Feb. 7 before County Judge Gordon Shuler.

Back at the humane society, there are many litters of puppies waiting to be adopted.

Martin said they’re housing 15 puppies, Labrador retriever and bloodhound mix, and five puppies, of a lab mix, and are expecting four more pups soon. Plus a litter of nine lab-husky mixes.

And there’s another 15 or 20 adult dogs to choose from. And 15 cats and kittens.

The adoption fees vary from $75 to $150, and no animal leaves the shelter without being fully spayed, neutered and vetted by the doctor.

Call them at 670-8417 in you’re interested in a pet.