Two dogs reunited after Washougal tragedy

Ben and Bella have been adopted by the same family

timestamp icon
category icon News
Border Collies Ben (left) and Bella (right) are happily back together under one roof. They were among the dogs that belonged to Steven Stanbary, of Washougal. Stanbary set fire to his house after killing his wife and her twin sister Dec. 7. Ben and Bella were reunited on Super Bowl Sunday after Jeff and Belinda Hickey brought Bella to the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society dog shelter to see Ben. "We were just curious about him to begin with," Belinda Hickey said. "We've always had dogs. We were enjoying Bella. We thought it would be nice for the two of them to be together."

On Super Bowl Sunday while some local families were watching pre-game coverage, Jeff and Belinda Hickey were taking their recently adopted dog Bella to the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society in Washougal, to see if another border collie recognized her as a long-lost “family” member.

Jeff and Bella stayed by the family car in the shelter’s parking lot, while Belinda brought the other dog Ben out of the shelter.

“They looked at each other,” Belinda said. “You could tell they recognized each other. They walked to each other.

“He put his head around her neck, and we just took them for a walk,” she added.

Bella’s age is estimated at 8 to 10 years old, while Ben is approximately 3 years old.

“She’s the boss,” Belinda said.

The two dogs were among the pets that belonged to Steven D. Stanbary, of Washougal. A murder-suicide on Dec. 7 involved Stanbary, 47, setting fire to his house at 3275 F Place after killing his wife Leona M. Bolton-Stanbary, 50, and her twin sister Mona K. Daugherty, 50.

Four dogs died in that incident, including at least one that died of a gunshot wound.

Bella was located that evening in the neighborhood where the shootings had occurred. Meanwhile, Ben was found by Stanbary’s former neighbors Dea Taylor-West and her husband Lyman, in late January and recovered by animal control officers with the Washougal Police Department.

The Hickeys and their daughters Sydney and Olivia are volunteers at the shelter.

“Bella has adapted very well,” Belinda said. “She is doing really good. She really seems to be happiest when she is not inside. She gets kinda nervous, so she goes out. Both her and Ben are in the garage.

“We have acreage [outside Washougal] so they get out a lot,” she added.

Meanwhile, Ben is nervous when “strangers” visit.

“He is quite traumatized and very scared,” Belinda said. “He gets very nervous. He does not know what to expect.

“We are spending time with him, building up [his] trust with us,” she added. “He won’t shiver with us.”

Bella, formerly named Chewie or Shadow, was renamed by Sydney — a “Twilight” movie fan — after the dog did not respond to the other names.

For more information about the WCGHS, call the dog shelter at 335-0941 or the cat shelter at 835-3464 or visit