When he arrived “thin and unclean” and with a “facial deformity” at the San Diego Department of Animal Services shelter in Carlsbad, California, in September, Harvey was named after the DC Comics character Harvey Dent or “Two Face” — one of Batman’s arch nemeses.
“He has a crooked smile,” Joy Ollinger, 44, a lieutenant with the San Diego Department of Animal Services, told Fox News Digital.
“Our vets examined him and they say his face malformation is perhaps from being bitten when he was a very small puppy. He doesn’t know any difference and it doesn’t affect him.”
That did nevertheless seem to concern potential adopters, Ollinger noted.
“People would walk by him and simply not even give him a second look,” Ollinger told Fox News Digital.
“I actually heard people saying he was unattractive due of his facial deformities. And then the whole time he was there, no one requested to take him out for an encounter or prospective adoption. Not once throughout the whole time.”
The refuge accommodates roughly 110 dogs at a time, Ollinger said.
“People would walk by him and simply not even give him a second look.”
“We get so many people going through, and it just made us sad because we love Harvey,” Ollinger said. “We saw how much he had to contribute.”
Ollinger began bringing Harvey, who she estimated to be almost two years old, into her office to get to know him better.
“He’s extremely kind and he’s quiet and he’s clever,” Ollinger added. “He craves attention and he would lay at my feet. He was usually really interested in anything I was doing. As I was typing, he would bring his front paw up and gaze at the keyboard.”
Ollinger produced a Facebook post detailing Harvey’s characteristics and why someone should give him a chance.
“Harvey is a quiet and easygoing husky who gets along with other dogs and loves treats,” she wrote in the post.
“Harvey has a facial abnormality that doesn’t affect him but gives him a lopsided smile. I think it makes him even more lovable.”
Sherry Lankston, 41, of Woodinville, Washington, was immediately charmed — and reacted to the post from more than 1,000 miles away.
“I wasn’t actively hunting for a new fur baby, but this guy’s adorable face has me swooning,” she said on the post.
“The first time I saw Harvey’s goofy smile, I was like, ‘Oh my my, that’s the prettiest dog ever,” Lankston told Fox News Digital.
“I joked with my husband that I had discovered our second dog. We’d been talking about buying a second dog for a time. River, our first dog, loves other dogs and needs a companion. So we’re talking about it, but nothing ever really clicked.”
After additional deliberation, Lankston claimed she believed Harvey was the one.
“I noticed his goofiness and I thought ‘I found our dog,’” Lankston recalled. “He was so weird and lovely.”
Within three days, Lankston had packed up her kids — Harrison, 7, and Fionnlagh, 4, – and went to Carlsbad. The drive there took more than 20 hours.
“So [Lankston] came out to me one evening, packed her car the next day and then was off the next day,” Ollinger added.
“And then it took her, I guess, three days to drive down,” Ollinger remarked.
When the Lankstons were initially introduced to Harvey, it was love at first sight, Ollinger recalled.
“That was very adorable,” Ollinger added. “He quickly took to her and her kids. Sherry brought her dog, River, all the way down too. Harvey and River really hit it off as well.”
Harvey was quiet and hesitant at first, Lankston added.
“He passed the first test — or we passed the first test, I guess,” Lankston joked. “The next one was bringing in our dog River. She’s a shelter dog as well and so, she’s had baggage, but honestly they did wonderful. They had a couple sniffs here and there, and then she’s like, ‘OK cool.’”
Then Sherry’s husband, Robert, traveled down the next day to see Harvey — and suddenly Harvey had met the whole family.
“Harvey just moved over to her husband and leaned on his legs,” Ollinger claimed. “That was precious.”
The next morning, the Lankstons picked up Harvey and began the long road journey home. Ollinger said watching Harvey drive away was bittersweet.
“I would’ve been sad, but Sherry [Lankston] and I have become friends and we’ve been messaging one other pretty much every day,” Ollinger added.
“It’s been amazing,” Ollinger remarked. “She sends me images and videos of Harvey all the time.”
Lankston claimed that on the drive home, she heard more about how Harvey was saved when a woman who had been watching Ollinger’s Facebook post reached out to her.
“She said that they were riding ATVs in the desert when they discovered Harvey and two female dogs beneath a bush,” Lankston said.
“We were able to convince him to follow us with the two girls for miles back to our car,” the woman wrote to Lankston.
“He saved the other two girl Huskies’ lives. The girls were quite terrified of ATVs, but he helped them and wouldn’t leave them behind. We had no leashes or anything, and [were] in the middle of nowhere and he helped them so much. He’s the only reason they were alive.”
The crew took them back to their tent, Lankston added, and gave them chicken hamburger patties and strawberries.
“I think they were very delighted with their first supper,” the woman, who wished to remain anonymous, wrote to Lankston.
Since he’s been home, Lankston said Harvey is prospering.
“Having him here is amazing,” Lankston remarked. “He’s playing with the kids, he’s playing with us. It took River a day or two to really kind of settle down and understand that he’s not just visiting. He is here forever.”
Harvey is progressively meeting the other members of the Lankston family: four cats named Angel, Nimitz, Mak and Momo and a snail named Gary who will be freed when spring arrives in Washington, Lankston added.
Ollinger said she hopes Harvey’s tale would teach people not to judge a dog by its defects.
“Give them a chance. It’s easy to fall in love with the prettiest dog or the cutest kitten, but they all need homes, so just give them all a go,” Ollinger said.