After capturing the hearts of those around her, Queen Stella has put her crown to rest.
Stella, a 13-year-old English bulldog, became a focal point for advocates of responsible pet care after suffering years of neglect and overbreeding. She was rescued by Jacki Bagwell, vice president of Atlantic Rottweiler Rescue Foundation, a nonprofit dog rescue in Mooresville.
Stella died May 27, surrounded by her supporters, said Bagwell, 33, who lives in Mooresville.
“She was a great spokesdog for all other dogs in her position that didn’t get the love she got,” Bagwell said. “Stella knew we loved her and were there for her until the very end.”
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Stella was found in April by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal & Care Control, abandoned in a creek in the Charlotte area. It’s not certain where she had been living. Bagwell took Stella from animal control, where she was about to be put down.
Bagwell said she rescued Stella to give her at least one good night. That turned into nearly two months of playtime, doggie treats and teaching the importance of responsible pet care.
Bagwell teamed up with members of the community to create and complete a bucket list for Stella.
Queen Stella enjoyed the Bark in the Park Top Dog Festival in a wagon donated to her. The festival was April 26 at Historic Rural Hill in Huntersville.
Then Stella attended an adoption fair, had her first taste of doggie ice cream and took a trip to the Lucky Dog: Bark and Brew doggie bar in Cornelius, Bagwell said.
“She loved going out there and playing and loved her ice cream,” she said. “Stella was so outgoing and loving. She never met a stranger.”
When Bagwell first brought Stella to Lakewood Veterinary Hospital in Mooresville, veterinarian Derick Lengemann said she didn’t have long to live, and they were dedicated to giving Stella a good quality of life for as long as they could.
Lengemann said he first thought Stella would live another couple of days, never guessing she would endure for almost two more months.
“It was pretty miraculous,” he said. “She was a doll. She had a great attitude about life.”
While they treated Stella with antibiotics and eye drops, Lengemann said, the goal was to keep her stress-free.
“She was always at a happy spot,” he said.
When Stella’s breathing became a chore and Lengemann found a mass in her abdomen, he said they knew she was no longer comfortable.
“It was time for her,” he said.
Stella’s supporters had a photo shoot with her and toasted to her memory with Stella Artois beer, Bagwell said.
“We made the last day really fun for her,” she said.
Bagwell said she hopes people who met Stella will remember her story and spread awareness of proper pet care, including spaying and neutering pets and providing preventive heartworm medication.
“Stella wouldn’t have been in that position if someone had taken care of her,” Bagwell said. “Your pet doesn’t need to suffer.”
Lengemann stressed that providing the proper medications and care is crucial to owning a pet.
“They are part of your family,” he said. “There are things we can do to take care of them.”