A police officer in Terrell, TX is credited with saving the lives of an unlikely four-legged family after he discovered a female Chihuahua tied to a pole in front of an animal shelter and the two newborn kittens she is nursing.
“I looked and saw two little balls of fur with the Chihuahua and I thought it was a couple of puppies, said Officer Steven Johns. “I went to move them into a cage and much to my surprise the mama dog is nursing two kittens instead of two puppies.”
The unusual family has moved in with Deborah Franklin, a foster mother and volunteer with Paws Patrol Pet Rescue, the group that took custody of the animals.
Franklin is grateful the Chihuahua and kittens were found before it was too late.
“The family was abandoned over the weekend when the animal shelter is closed. They were left without any food or water and would have died in the heat if Officer Johns hadn’t stopped by,” said Franklin.
The mother dog has been named Winona, which means “The Giver” in the Sioux language. She is 4 to 5 years-old and described by Franklin as a “loveable little dog” and “an attentive mother.” The kittens are 2 weeks-old and appear to be healthy. The male silver tabby has been named “Stevie” in honor of Officer Johns; his sister, a little calico, is still waiting for an appropriate name to be chosen.
While there are no clues as to what happened to the kittens’ natural mother or the puppies that were recently born to Winona, Franklin’s guess is that the mother cat died and the Chihuahua’s puppies were sold. Someone then decided to see if Winona would accept the kittens as her own.
Word about Winona and her kittens spread quickly on the Internet. Their popularity took the small rescue group by surprise as requests to adopt the family poured in from all over the world. While Paws Patrol appreciates the public’s concern, the group plans to keep the kittens for 2 to 3 months until they are old enough to be spayed and neutered.
The future for Winona is less predictable because the small dog tested positive for heartworm. She cannot begin treatment for the condition until she has weaned the kittens because the medication used to cure heartworm is toxic to cats. Franklin has begun introducing formula to the kittens’ diet and hopes to have them fully weaned in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, Winona has to be kept quiet because any stress can worsen the disease and possibly be fatal to the dog. When she is ready for treatment, the cost to Paws Patrol will be in the neighborhood of $900.
The group may also keep the kittens with Winona while she undergoes the heartworm treatment. The process can be hard on a little dog’s body and the kittens can serve as companions to reassure Winona during the ordeal. The family has become quite close in the few weeks they have been together.
While Franklin believes Winona was once a loved pet, she is concerned about the lack of responsibility her owners showed her.
“Winona would not be in this position if she had regular veterinary visits and had been spayed,” said Franklin. “Please spay and neuter your pets.”
Franklin and Paws Patrol are doing all they can for Winona and her kittens. Fans can read about their progress on the group’s Facebook Page.
Photo Credit: PawsPatrolPetRescue