This story was originally published Oct. 27, 2014.
The furriest volunteer at the Arizona Humane Society’s kitten nursery in Phoenix is 13-year-old Boots, a survivor of Hurricane Katrina.
AHS staff call Boots, a Chow/Golden Retriever mix who started working at the shelter in October 2014, the “Kitten Whisperer.”
Boots reports for duty every Wednesday. Kittens between the ages of 5 and 8 weeks old are allowed to snuggle up to him, so shelter staff can observe how well they’ll do with potential adopters who have dogs.
“He’s so relaxed,” Bretta Nelson, public relations manager for the AHS, told the Arizona Republic. “We bring him in, he sniffs the tents, he sniffs (the kittens). You can see their reaction, who’s curious and will just come up to Boots or will want to go slow.”
Boots “was rescued from the flooded streets in New Orleans after Katrina with severe chemical burns to his feet,” wrote Corinne Williams, a veterinary tech with AHS, in a comment on its Facebook page. “Now he is giving back by potentially saving other fellow creatures’ lives. Go Boots!”
According to the AHS website, studies show that kittens have a small window of time in which their exposure to new things will have an impact on their ability to adapt to changes when they become adults. The kitten nursery, which opened in May 2014, exposes them to “home life,” including riding in cars, the sound of a vacuum, children — and dogs.
“By bringing a dog nanny in, we’re exposing these kittens to a lot of different things,” Nelson said. “In the end, they will be adaptable and more adoptable.”
She said having Boots as a volunteer is a win-win for everyone involved.
“Boots loves it. Most of the kittens love it. Some are very scared at first, but the whole thought is to get them acclimated to being around dogs.”
Photos via Facebook