Lesley-Ann Brandt says her rescue dog Eli has been her best friend and family
Credit: Ari Michelson

Lesley-Ann Brandt’s Siberian husky Eli, 7, has been her constant companion since she moved to L.A. from New Zealand to pursue acting six-and-a-half years ago.

“There was a little adoption event, which was associated with Best Friend Animal Society, and I saw this really skinny, beautiful Husky with these blue eyes, and he was so docile,” the Lucifer star 35, tells PEOPLE of when she first met Eli. “He just laid down on his back. I took him home, and he’s been my best friend ever since!”

Brandt was able to give Eli a loving home, but he was not as lucky with his previous owners.

“Eli’s story was actually really heartbreaking,” says the actress. “He had been removed from his home. He has a little scar on his head where he had been hit. He was abused, so his demeanor was already super-friendly, but you could also tell that he hadn’t really had a good start in life.”

But as much as Brandt rescued Eli, she says her dog has rescued her as well.

“Eli has been my family,” she says. “It’s a pretty big deal when you immigrate from another country and you don’t know too many people, so he’s been with me through missed opportunities and ‘Oh, you didn’t get the job’ and breakups with boyfriends. He’s been through it all.”

  • For more from stars and their rescue pets, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now

“The thing about a rescue pet, and any dog really, is it’s unconditional love,” Brandt continues. “Whether dinner’s late or you’re upset or you’re moody or whatever, they still love you, and literally all they want is a belly rub and some treats and hugs and kisses.”

RELATED VIDEO: Wings of Rescue Takes 20,000th Dog to New Forever Home

Since adopting Eli, Brandt has also added 10-month-old blue-nose pit bull Frankie to her family — and fortunately, the two dogs became fast friends.

“They love each other,” she says. “Frankie is so loving, so she’s all up in his face, biting ears and licking. Eli just sits there like, ‘All right kid, enjoy it.’ It was like instant family.”