Transformation stories


In September of last year, a good samaritan discovered an emaciated dog lying on the sidewalk. Upon examination, it became clear the dog could not walk, so they scooped him up and rushed him to the Garland Animal Shelter.

The GAS veterinary team stabilized him as best they could, assessed his condition, and gave him a name, Bean. Beyond being noted as “the literal definition of skin and bones,” he had a host of serious medical issues including dehydration, scabies, mange, anemia, ear infections, a heart murmur, abysmal kidney and liver functions, and only a few patches of fur remaining.

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With his quality of life so low and his survival so uncertain, the shelter considered humane euthanasia to relieve his suffering. However, they quickly discovered the fighting spirit behind his eyes, and decided to give him a second chance. Shelter staff immediately turned to social media and sent out an urgent plea.

Meanwhile, Jey Lehew, seasoned foster parent and Rescue Director at Dallas Pets Alive!, was mourning the loss of her own beloved foster dog turned family member, Milosh, who had passed away suddenly just a week before.

“I was so very bonded with Milosh and if I am being honest, when he passed away, I was unsure if I would be able to foster again. The pain was immeasurable,” Lehew said.

While scrolling Facebook, a Memory featuring Milosh appeared, and she was overcome with grief. She cried so hard her chest hurt. She focused on the photo for nearly 15 minutes, getting lost in their cherished past, before she was able to move on. The next post was about an emaciated dog at the Garland Animal Shelter.

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“I felt that Milosh put that post below the Facebook Memory post so I would see a chance to save a life, and begin to heal my heart,” Lehew said. “I felt an immediate need to tag Bean and get him into our home as soon as possible. I picked him up the very next morning.”

It instantly became apparent that Bean’s condition was one of extreme neglect and abuse, and that the first 72 hours would be critical. He could not walk on his own for a few days, so Lehew supported his little frame each time he pottied. She gave him soothing medicated baths for his skin infections. She clothed him in cute pajamas so he would always feel warmth and softness against his bare skin, and rocked him to sleep at night. Her 4 adopted dogs, all girls, treated him like one of their own. The Lehews also felt he needed a more appropriate name and chose Reeves, in honor of Keanu Reeves’ animal welfare advocacy and love of dogs.

“I do my best to put what was done to Reeves behind me, bit by bit every day,” Lehew said. “He had not been out on the streets long at all because the pads of his paws were pristine, not the feet of a dog who had been walking out on the hot pavement for any length of time.”

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As much as the Lehew family wanted to spoil him with treats, Reeves was also in danger of suffering Refeeding Syndrome — an affliction where nourishment is introduced too rapidly, shifting electrolyte levels, and causing serious complications like seizures, organ failure, and sometimes even death.

“He was 6.2 pounds of pure determination and I gave him more love than I have ever given anything or anybody in my life,” Lehew said. “I could tell he wanted to live and I was going to make sure, come hell or high water, that he did.”

Despite his arduous road to recovery, his courage and character began to shine through. He started responding to his new name. Within four days, he started walking on his own. Seven days after Lehew picked him up, he made it halfway up the stairs. By his two-week checkup, he had gained four pounds and started to regrow fur as his skin healed.

“We started making TikTok videos of his progress and each one was viewed between 3-4 thousand times and shared almost as many times.” #TeamReeves

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After a couple months of recuperating, Reeves was cleared for adoption, and Lehew started to panic. She was afraid she would not be able to find an adopter who could give him the same “all-day, every day” attention he had grown accustomed to with her.

“He was like a newborn baby to me and I came to realize that he was already in his new home, with us. Everybody else seemed to have already decided I was adopting him before I did, but I guess they all know me too well. It was meant to be,” Lehew said.

These days, Reeves is nearly 20 pounds and covered in fluffy white fur, and you would never guess he was barely clinging to life less than 6 months ago. He loves his sisters, follows them wherever they go, and is not afraid to wrestle dogs double his size. He prances when he walks and makes little annoyed noises when Lehew is taking too long to make his meals. She describes him as one of the friendliest, funniest, cutest, and smartest dogs the family has ever known. They laugh every day because of his antics and could not imagine their lives without him.

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“I think Milosh sent Reeves to heal my heart,” Lehew said. He “has brought joy back to our home and re-established my purpose… to save more lives and to never give up.”

Fostering is a profound commitment that can change lives—both animal and human. It comes with its shares of joy and heartbreak, but as Jey and Reeves have shown, the journey can lead to unexpected bonds that redefine family. Their story is an invitation to others to consider opening their doors to foster pets; it’s an opportunity to be part of something larger than yourself.

Dallas Pets Alive! is mostly run by volunteers and has no physical shelter, so it is dependent on the generosity and support of foster families like the Lehews. They even have educational and financial programs to aid fosters in their invaluable work.

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