A few days ago, we covered the Australian man Tim Shaddock and his dog Bella who were rescued after three months stranded at sea. Shaddock was praised for prioritizing Bella’s survival, and experts credited Bella with giving Shaddock the motivation to keep going.
But as soon as the pair reached shore, Shaddock parted ways with his canine companion, leaving some people questioning the real nature of their human-animal relationship. “The castaway Australian guy is going to turn out to be a massive ‘milkshake duck’ mark my words,” @allahliker tweeted when the story first broke. “How many dogs did he eat? How many people? We may never know.”
as i always say, there's almost assuredly a cannibalism aspect here. the sea and cannibalism go together like the ocean and people eating people— Helldude Classic (@allahliker) July 19, 2023
It was reported that Shaddock gave the dog to one of their rescuers, but that fact wasn’t enough to stop the morbid speculation.
nobody panic, one of the rescue crew adopted Bella. and lord knows she could use a break. now is it sus he let her go after all they went through? one wonders— Summer Strike Shivvy (@ShivvyTime) July 19, 2023
Knew there was something suss about this all, take note: avoid being stranded adrift at sea with an Australian that has that look— deki (@DekiZedd) July 19, 2023
he didn't eat *that specific dog* at least not by the time he was found— Helldude Classic (@allahliker) July 19, 2023
Speculation is the operative word here. Hearing Shaddock talk about Bella, a stray he found in Mexico, makes it clear that he cares deeply for the pup, and leaving her with the rescuers was the best decision. “That dog is something else; I’m a bit biased but yeah,” he said. “I tried to find a home for her maybe three times, and she just kept following me out into the water. She’s a beautiful animal, and I’m just grateful she’s alive.”
The reason he parted ways with her is also totally plausible. Australia has exceptionally strict rules when it comes to importing animals and bringing her into the country would have taken time — time she didn’t necessarily have as she required medical care after her ordeal.
He didn't abandon it. He couldn't take it back to Australia and gave to one of the men who saved him on the promise they took good care of it.— Monsieur Pizza Bones, esq (@AphatPearson) July 19, 2023
The rules for getting a dog into Australia are pretty strict. Leaving Bella with someone else was probably a kinder option. He made sure she'd have a home rather than leaving her in a shelter.— Cheryl (@fallingleaves) July 20, 2023
So no, Tim Shaddock didn’t eat, or abandon his dog. This particular dog, anyway.