Cape Cod Times

Was Honey Too Sweet?


SOUTH YARMOUTH - The small leather-brown pup is timid when first meeting strangers, but after a few minutes she is a wiggling whirl of love.

"Honey," who has called the Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod home for the last two months, can be excused for her initial shyness. She was found limping and badly injured in a Sandwich neighborhood in October, after neighbors heard a car drive by, screech to a halt, and speed off.

Dr. Burns with Honey

Dr. Thomas Burns of Veterinary Associates
of Cape Cod pets Honey, an injured
Staffordshire terrier that was abandoned in a
Sandwich neighborhood in October.

The dog, which is about 10 months old, suffered several fractures to her right front leg. Sandwich Animal Control Officer Timothy Houlihan believes she was thrown out of the car. The culprit, if he's ever found, will be slapped with felony animal cruelty charges, Houlihan said.

"This is a tough case; kind of like a needle in a haystack," Houlihan said.

A concerned resident saw the injured dog on the evening of Oct. 15 and called police. Houlihan could see she was hurt, but since no veterinary offices were open that evening, and after seeing Honey's good disposition, he brought her home for the night.

"She's a sweetheart. I think she's going to make a great pet," he said.

But Honey is not suitable for just any home, said Dr. Thomas Burns of Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth, who poured "thousands of dollars" and dozens of hours into healing the compound fractures in the dog's leg. Office staff there said the dog is an American Staffordshire terrier, a breed often confused with a pit bull. Burns said prospective owners will be carefully screened, and preference will be given to people who have owned and loved the breed before.

Both American Staffordshire terriers and pit bulls are active, strong and have a natural tendency to guard and protect their family, said Carla Restivo of Dallas, Texas, a breeder of the dogs.

Her top three requirements for owners of the breed are: someone who has owned the breed before, has a good track record of ownership, and is actively involved with their dog.

Many insurance companies include the pit bull-types in their list of breeds whose families they will not insure, said Alan Long, owner and president of Eldredge and Lumpkin Insurance in Chatham.

But he said one of the major home insurance companies in the state, Commerce Insurance, this week sent a notice saying they will consider insuring owners of such breeds, if the dog has a good behavior certificate from a program sponsored by the American Kennel Club. According to the AKC Web site, the Canine Good Citizen Program tests a dog's behavior for things like accepting a friendly stranger, walking in a crowd, coming when called and reaction to other dogs.

For Honey, Houlihan has one theory of why her former owner abandoned her. He believes she may have failed to show the aggressive behavior the person hoped for in a pit bull-type dog.

"Maybe she was just too nice," he said.

This article © Copyright 2006 Cape Cod Times