By TJJD Communications

Dallas Pets Alive and Texas Juvenile Justice Department have solidified a unique partnership that’s helping dogs in need of temporary fostering care while saving their owners from needless heartache.

The fostering partnership enlists TJJD youth in the BARK program at Gainesville State School to foster dogs for owners who are in medical crisis or transition. As temporary foster dog “parents,” the youth keep the dogs safe and happy and polish up their training, a role that teaches them life skills, patience and responsibility and the satisfaction that comes with providing an important community service.

The dogs’ owners get peace of mind and canines are kept out of shelters.

“We receive so many inquiries for help from people who are in crisis who do not want to surrender their pets,” said Leslie Sans, executive director and founder of Dallas Pets Alive (DPA). “People don’t want to let go of their best friend, and they shouldn’t have to, when they’re going through a crisis.”

Today, DPA released a video explaining how this new partnership helped a dog named Baxter and his owner, who needed someone to foster his pup during a medical crisis.


Baxter was among the first six foster dogs placed at the BARK dorm, with each pup being assigned to a pair of youth who care for the dogs.

The 12 youth at the BARK dorm have earned their way there, keeping up with school studies and good behavior. 

The BARK dorm serves as growth experience for the youth and an incentive and beacon to others on campus, said Gainesville Superintendent Darryl Anderson. Those chosen for the BARK dorm have taken to the task, becoming good stewards and bonding with their furry charges, he said.

“They have a lot in common with the dogs. The dogs are going through trauma and so are some of our youth,” Anderson said.

“It’s incredible to see the changes in the dogs, 100 percent turns their life around,” said Sarah McGoldrick, director of DPA’s PASS (Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender) program.

BARK (Building Attachment and Resilience K-9) launched in mid-2023, with several TJJD staffers getting special training in how to work with the dogs from trainer Roman Gottfried, who emphasizes building attachments and a trauma-informed approach.

Another program that completes the training is GoodPup, which works with DPA. GoodPup sponsors weekly virtual training for the BARK youth, with dog trainers offering guidance and answering questions.

(Photo: Dallas Pets Alive)