This is Neo. Neo is a happy, affectionate dog who has a big canine brother who he loves to snuggle up with, and humans who envelop him with love. This was not always Neo’s life. When first meeting some humans Neo he may be a little shy, making himself small as you approach. Building confidence can be challenging for anyone. For Neo, it also means overcoming severe neglect, which we know he endured for some time.

Whatever exactly happened in Neo’s past we don’t know and may never know, but he was picked up by Lafayette Animal Shelter and Care Center (LASCC) as a stray. He weighed just 15 lbs, the size of an average spaniel or shih tzu. He probably should have weighed twice that. He was so frail and weak, his body so much like a skeleton that it caused open wounds on his hips. We took him in from LASCC less than 10 days after he was found and provided him with a quiet little den in one of the offices. He loved his stuffed animal toys, which we jokingly called his ‘babies.’ He always took excellent care of them.

After several days from LASCC to our facility, receiving crucial veterinary care around the clock including blood work, Neo had put on 8lbs! He was thriving but what he needed most was to be in a home environment where all the neglect could wash away and Neo could experience the one thing all companion pets deserve: a family.

Stephanie is one of our most dedicated foster moms and she never hesitated for a second to take Neo home. There, Neo took lessons from a bite sized little chihuahua who showed him the ropes. Stephanie and her husband helped too, of course. During his time with Stephanie we had Neo treated for an upper respiratory infection, neutered, and continuing on that weight gain momentum! Neo was getting quite comfortable with home life. He even started to find his voice, vocalizing lots of big barks to his foster mom when he wanted attention. He learned about those very extra comfy dog beds, fetching balls, and each day grew more and more rambunctious.

That’s when Neo’s second foster mom came in: Hannah. Neo needed to get all this new energy out and Hannah had just signed up to join our foster program. She had already adopted a dog from us over a year ago. We LOVE when adopters return to us as fosters and we knew Hannah’s young, big playful boy would not only keep Neo busy but help him learn the proper ways to interact with other dogs. By the way, by the time Neo went to Hannah’s he was at a healthy weight of over 30 lbs!

It didn’t take very long for Neo to settle in with Hannah and her husband. In fact, you could say they were all experiencing a bit of butterflies! After Neo’s first adoption fell through, we received that special message “we’ve been talking and we think we may want to keep Neo!”

Who doesn’t love a good foster fail? And even better, for it to be Neo! Sometimes I have a little inkling in the back of my mind, when matching dogs with fosters, and I think “maybe they’ll just keep him,” and sometimes I’m wrong but man, do I love it when I’m a little bit right. Neo needed this, he needed all of us and I think we all can learn from him. He had been through such a tragic past: starved, scared and abandoned, left to just deteriorate. Neo is just one of thousands of dogs in our community who are only asking for a little bit of kindness, for someone to notice them, to simply love and care for them.

I hope Neo’s story inspires change and encourages a positive outlook for animals in Acadiana. If you see acts of abuse or neglect, speak up. Neo, and all dogs in our community rely on your watchful eyes and compassionate voice. Thankfully, Neo is currently living the life he was always meant to have. He is awaiting heartworm treatment before finalizing his adoption, but he has found his family and that’s the part of the story that we celebrate most.