NEW PORT RICHEY — Word of the sightings popped up on Craigslist last month. People kept seeing a dog with a severe, grotesque neck injury. Strangers worked together to catch the dog and save her life.
Now, after two surgeries, the 1-year-old female pup named Honey feels so good that she broke some of her stitches while jumping around.
"She's doing really well," said Abigail Appleton, manager of the Humane Society of Pinellas, a nonprofit shelter in Clearwater where Honey is recovering.
Honey's story appeared in the Times on Jan. 3. Appleton said the community donated more than $2,000 in the past week.
"We are very grateful to everyone who has taken a special interest in Honey and has donated toward her care and toward the care of other animals in need," Appleton said.
Honey has been at the Humane Society since New Year's Eve and will be there for a few months as she recovers.
She was seen roaming around New Port Richey in December with a terrible injury. Someone tied a rope around her neck when she was a puppy. As she grew, the rope cut into her flesh, leaving open, infected wounds several inches deep. Her head was bloated to the size of a basketball.
People posted sightings of her on Craigslist and rallied to find her. She was skittish and scared. She ran from people.
Honey ended up in a back yard on Avenal Loop in New Port Richey on Dec. 30. A woman who saw her asked for help on Craigslist. She said Pasco Animal Control couldn't come out until the next day and she feared the dog would die before then — and she didn't have the means to take the dog to the vet herself.
Devon Detrapani, 29, read the post and came to the stranger's house to see what she could do. Detrapani and her husband coaxed Honey into a crate and took her that night to the AA Animal Emergency Clinic in Palm Harbor. The clinic performed surgery to remove the rope and transported Honey to the Humane Society of Pinellas the next day. The shelter is covering her medical expenses.
The shelter staff named her Honey because she's so sweet.
Appleton said it was one of the worst cases of abuse she's seen in her career. If it had gone on much longer, the rope could have cut into Honey's esophagus.
Appleton said she is pursuing leads to find Honey's owners. Honey could have escaped her home as a puppy, the rope growing into her neck as she lived on the streets. But she wasn't malnourished. So, unless she found enough food on her own, it seems someone fed her, knowing her condition.
She said Honey had another surgery two weeks ago to close her wound. And bandages last week to treat her broken stitches.
Appleton said they think Honey might be a Shar-Pei and pit bull mix.
She said Honey still has a long recovery ahead, but several people have already asked about adopting her when she's well.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.