Rescued Dog Becomes a Hero for Kittens

Boots, the Kitten Nanny, Helps Young Felines Find Forever Homes


Boots, a rescued Chow/German Shepherd mix, lays on a fleece blanket completely unfazed as tiny kittens climb on him like a jungle gym. The poised gray-muzzled dog spends his days, both at home and at the Arizona Humane Society Kitten Nursery, helping five-to-eight-week-old stray or abandoned kittens get a second chance at life.


Paying it forward

The kitten care unit at the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) mirrors the peaceful haven of a child’s nursery, complete with baby blue and pastel pink walls, loving caretakers and soothing background music—a welcome reprieve from Boots’ chaotic past.


“He was rescued during the wake of Hurricane Katrina,” says Susan Juergensen, who was among the AHS volunteers supporting the Hurricane Katrina animal rescue efforts. “When he was found, his feet were almost completely degloved,” she recalls. Having lost nearly all of the padding on his feet, all four of his paws were bandaged as they healed—earning him the name “Boots.”


Made for the job

Emergency animal medical technicians were unable to reconnect Boots with his owners so he was brought to Arizona where Susan fostered and eventually adopted her new pal.


“When I brought Boots home, one of the first things he did was run over to the kittens. We held him back a bit because we didn’t know how they would interact but it was just normal behavior for Boots to let the cats cuddle with him,” says Susan.


Going on his third year as the official Kitten Nanny for the Arizona Humane Society (AHS), the now 13-year-old senior has the job down to a science.


“First, he’ll do a perimeter walk around the nursery and we’ll watch how the kittens react,” explains Susan. “If the kittens became interested, and were not hissing or distressed, that’s the first sign of acclimation.”


From there, the kittens take turns sitting in a kennel with Boots while volunteers supervise the interaction. “It’s not so much about Boots playing with the kittens,” says Bretta Nelson, spokesperson for AHS. “The process we go for here is for them to be comfortable being in the presence of a dog.”


Rescues helping rescues

The Kitten Nursery was formed to help reduce cat surrender rates by proactively acclimating kittens to real-life scenarios—many of which include socializing cats to adapt to multi-pet households.

“It is so vital that adopters can see the kitten they are adopting gets along with dogs, it takes some of the guesswork out of the adoption process,” says Bretta.

Boots’ volunteer efforts not only help hundreds of young kittens find forever homes, his work is helping shed light on how amazing shelter pets are. “Boots was rescued from a really traumatic experience and has turned into this amazing dog that is doing this amazing thing for other shelter pets,” says Bretta. “It spreads the message of what your shelter pet can become.”


Looking to help kittens in need?


Learn more about the Arizona Humane Society


Be a Kitten Warrior like Hannah Shaw 


Read about our Spay/Neuter programs





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