The Dog Who Was Set on Fire

Harvey looks pretty different from when Betty first met the hound mix six years ago. And that’s a good thing.

When she started fostering Harvey, his head was a raw, reddish-pink and the ends of his ears were missing. They’d burned off. When he was set on fire.

No one knows the whole story, but Harvey was found in this condition in Oklahoma. Someone brought the dog to a vet, who diagnosed him with second- and third-degree burns. The vet also found accelerant on Harvey.

“It’s very hard to imagine,” Betty said of whoever did this to the dog she says is “such a dear boy.” She doesn’t like to think about that. In fact, she deleted some of the photos she received of him at his worst. She much prefers his current joyful self.

Harvey was transported from a shelter in Oklahoma to Anderson Humane, where Betty was fostering. When she first took Harvey in, he was timid, very thin, still recovering from his burns, and heartworm positive.

“He was also very loving,” Betty said. “He wanted love. He would keep his head down, but he would approach you.” Betty cared for Harvey while he was treated for heartworm and his burns.

During that time, some neighbors of hers fell in love with Harvey. They wanted to adopt him, but he wound up being too assertive for their cat, so it didn’t work out.

By that time, Betty had bonded with Harvey. She’d been through a lot with him while he recovered. And she had experience with special needs dogs. At the time, she had two older dogs at home, Hollywood and Tootsie, both rescues. She soon adopted Harvey as well.

“It was funny, the first night Harvey was back with me he jumped up on my bed,” Betty said, adding that prior to that he’d always slept on the floor. “He was like, this is where I’m sleeping now.” He knew he was home for good.

Harvey still has pain in his head and often rubs his head along Betty’s sofa. “He loves to have his head rubbed,” she said. “It’s basically a big scar.” She puts sunblock on his head in the summer, and occasionally a scarf in the winter to keep it protected. “There’s no fur, just skin.”

Betty doesn’t mind this extra effort. As an amputee, she said she has a soft spot for those with special needs. “I think I have extra patience and compassion,” Betty said of her unique perspective. “You just have to have understanding and let them teach you what they need and are capable of.”

While she admits that fostering and adopting special needs dogs is “not a picnic,” she appreciates the routine, joy, and love they bring to her life. “During covid, the dogs got me out on so many walks. Anytime I’m sick, Harvey is right next to me. He’s given me so much.”

Though Betty has clearly given Harvey so much as well, she’s quick to give credit to another. “Harvey was found on the side of the road in Oklahoma,” Betty said. “The true hero is the woman who found him and took that very injured dog into her car and to the vet.”

In our book, they’re both heroes.

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