When Harvey entered the shelter at Alachua County Animal Services during the “dog days of summer” he just may have hit the jackpot! After a positive test for heartworm disease and diagnosis of a chronic, painful ocular condition, shelter workers knew they could not provide the level of care that Harvey deserved and sent out a plea to local rescue groups.

 “As soon as I saw his picture and heard his story, I knew I wanted to help,” said Amy Tate, Director of Rescue and Re-homing for Second Chance Farms, Inc.. Tate knew that the HAARTS program, a life-saving, educational initiative of the Shelter Animal Medicine clerkship would provide the perfect opportunity to treat Harvey’s conditions and allow him to go up for adoption. “We decided he needed that chance,” Tate said.

Working with clinicians in shelter medicine, Dr. Brendan Mangan of the Ophthalmology department at the UF Small Animal Hospital agreed to evaluate Harvey and perform surgery to correct his condition. “Harvey was born with congenital eyelid defects…[which] resulted in chronic corneal pain and irritation. A procedure was performed to shorten his eyelids, and provide lateral tension and stability,” Mangan said.

After his procedure, Harvey received his first heartworm treatment and was transported to south Florida under the care of Adam Greenberg and The Underdog Foundation, LLC, one of Second Chance Farms’ partnering rescue organizations. During his follow-up treatments, Harvey’s new veterinarian, Dr. Alison Birken (UF CVM c/o 2006), realized he would be the perfect addition to her four-legged family. Harvey is now the mascot at Victoria Park Animal Hospital where he goes to work with his mom every day.

Of their role in Harvey’s happy ending, Greenberg says “We did as we do…Harvey was just a special dog.”

Since its inception, the HAARTS program has saved the lives of over 500 animals at risk for euthanasia in local shelters and currently relies solely on private donations to fulfill its lifesaving mission.