updated 2/16/2007 5:12:28 PM ET 2007-02-16T22:12:28

A palm-sized pet turtle and the golden retriever that gobbled it up survived the misadventure thanks to the quick actions of a 12-year-old girl, a veterinarian said.

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The saga of Pepper the red-eared slider turtle and Bella the golden retriever started last week. Shelby Terihay, 12, moved her pet pond turtles indoors to protect them from a cold snap — a plan that worked well until Bella found some of the turtles in a bathtub, The Tampa Tribune reported.

A quick head count confirmed Bella had swallowed one of the turtles. Shelby insisted on a rescue mission, and on the advice of a vet, her parents made Bella vomit. Out came Pepper, still alive despite a shattered shell and an estimated 10 minutes inside Bella's belly.

"This was definitely a first for me," veterinarian David Thomassy said.

Thomassy patched up Pepper's shell and credited Shelby with saving Bella too.

"The turtle would definitely have caused an obstruction," Thomassy said. "Without cutting it out directly, it eventually would have killed the dog."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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