CapeNews.net, the website of the Enterprise Newspapers

July 4, 2008

Sweet Honey—Rescued Beagle Treated at Forestdale Vet Clinic

Originally published on CapeNews.net, the website of the Enterprise Newspapers

By DIANA T. BARTH

A yellow and white "lemon" beagle—dubbed Honey for her sweet disposition by town workers—was found wandering down a road in Sagamore Beach near midnight last Saturday.

This dog, however, was not just sweet and approachable; she had nails that were so long they crossed over and even dug into the pads of her feet and a cantaloupe-sized tumor visible on her stomach.

The policeman who spotted her brought her into the station for the night.

On Sunday morning, Sharon Hamilton, the Department of Natural Resources Officer on duty, went down to the Main Street station to take the beagle to the Animal Inn in Sandwich. That kennel temporarily cares for Bourne's stray animals.

"I was horrified at her condition," Ms. Hamilton said, particularly because the dog has such a gentle and lovely personality.

Normally, she said, an owner comes looking for a lost dog within a day or two. Honey, who was collarless and without a microchip, has been in custody for five days, without anyone making any inquiries.

Town personnel and the veterinarians at the Forestdale Veterinary Clinic on Route 130, next to the Animal Inn, have taken on an owner's responsibility.

The Forestdale clinic worked about a year ago with a pit bull that had been thrown from a car. That dog now has a great life with a wonderful owner, said Dr. Thomas Burns, owner of the clinic. Dr. Burns said they want to insure that Honey has the same opportunity.

One veterinary clinic staff member said that when Honey came in to the facility, both she and Ms. Hamilton were crying over the condition of the little dog.

Honey's twisted nails were clipped immediately.

Dr. Jennifer Young determined Honey's immediate medical needs, estimating her age as between 7 and 10 years.

"She's just a doll," Dr. Young said of the dog, who was very compliant and seemingly not in pain from the tumor.

Dr. Young said the initial testing made her believe the tumor is benign, but further investigation needs to be done to determine the cause of the mass prior to its removal.

Much of the other treatment Honey needs will take some time to complete. While her tumor appears operable, she tested positive for heartworms, Dr. Young said. Honey will need chest X-rays to determine the extent of any damage the heartworms have done, followed by four weeks or so of treatment.

Poor feeding and neglected teeth have given Honey some mouth issues, but those will take a back seat to the removal of the tumor and the heartworm treatment.

NRO Hamilton and the personnel at the veterinary clinic would like to find a foster, or eventually a permanent, home for her, somewhere loving and quiet, so that she can heal. She cannot be released immediately. Under state law, the department has to allow an owner 10 days to claim her before she can be released to someone else.

Ms. Hamilton and those working at the clinic have all fallen in love with her.

Both Dr. Young and Dr. Burns think that finding someone to care for Honey and oversee her treatment will not be a problem.

Dr. Burns said that Honey's treatment will be very expensive, but whoever takes her on will not have to pay.

Cape Cod is lucky, he said, because there is a pool of donated money called the Sampson Fund that owners can turn to if the care of an animal like Honey is too expensive for them to afford.

That fund, however, is more for owners, and rather than burden it, Dr. Burns said he would be using money from a special fund to help defray the cost of Honey's care.

Dr. Burns owns Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth, as well as the Forestdale clinic where Honey was brought. Sometimes after a doctor or client loses a well-loved patient, they will contribute $50 or $100 in that pet's memory to a rescue fund. It is that money, Dr. Burns said, that is available for ownerless patients like Honey, who might otherwise have to be put down.

It would be good, however, if at least some of Honey's treatment costs could be defrayed. Dr. Burns estimated those costs as falling between $3,000 and $5,000.

DNR Director Timothy Mullen said the town has no fund for animal rescue. Pets like Honey, lost or abandoned and needing care, are picked up from three to five times a year, he said. Usually, he said, the money is found somewhere, even if someone reaches into their own pocket or services are donated. Care as expensive as Honey's will be, however, are beyond the amount the town or its employees can afford.

Honey's plight, Mr. Mullen said, prompted him to talk with the town treasurer to start a fund to help pay for the cost of medical services for any other animals in a similar position.

Honey's fund does not have a name as yet, but anyone wanting to donate to the fund could make out a check to the Bourne Department of Natural Resources and put "animal rescue fund" in the memo line.

The DNR officers, meanwhile, would like to find Honey's owners. Anyone who has any knowledge of the little beagle's history, or questions about the new rescue fund, should call the natural resources department at 508-759-0621, extension 311.

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