Three homeless, motherless kittens have found an unlikely surrogate at the Barnwell County Animal Shelter.
The kittens, only a couple weeks old, were brought in by a woman last week. She told shelter staff the mother was already at the shelter, though the one she identified as the mother didn't want to nurse the kittens.
That's where a three-year-old mixed breed dog comes in.
The dog, which came to the shelter a month ago with five puppies, has adopted the kittens into her family. The mother dog nurses the kittens, picks them up as she would her own puppies, and is protective of them.
"The mama (dog) took right to the kittens. You never know what an animal's going to do," said Tammay White, the shelter director, citing how she's never witnessed this kind of the behavior before, other than on television. "All three of them made it through the weekend."
While the mother dog has helped the kittens survive, she now needs some help of her own. The dog is heartworm positive and needs treatment, something the shelter seeks donations to provide.
"She's a great mom and a good dog," said White. "It'd be a shame to have to put her down."
Donations can be mailed to the Barnwell County Animal Shelter at 57 Diamond Road, Barnwell, SC, 29812. They can also be dropped off when the shelter is open: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
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