Shelly Gomez of Noah's Bark, a South Bay dog rescue, is caring for a mom dog and her five pups, along with a kitten she rescued from the same shelter in Los Angeles. (Sean Hiller/Staff Photographer)
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Dog rescue volunteer Shelly Gomez of Hawthorne got more than she bargained for after she bailed a mama Chihuahua mix and her five newborn pups out of the shelter for Noah's Bark.
So did mama dog, who wound up adopting a newborn kitten to nurse along with her pups.
About a week after Gomez brought the mother dog - nicknamed "Jolie" for the actress known for adopting children - Gomez received a call from the same shelter in South Los Angeles asking her to pick up more newborn pups.
"While I was picking up these (other) day-old puppies (that went to another foster home), there's a cat screaming and they said, `Do you want it?'
"I really don't know anything about cats, but I knew what the alternative was - they were going to euthanize it," she said. "So I took the kitten home and when I walked in the door, the mom (dog) greeted me and was jumping up, trying to grab the kitten out of my arms. ... She was so excited."
Worried that the dog might hurt the kitten, Gomez slowly let the dog sniff the feline that had been dropped at the shelter in a cardboard box. "She just kept cleaning it and cleaning it," she said. "So I put the kitten in the (dogs') box and the kitten started nursing. The rest is history."
The tiny black-and-white, blue-eyed kitten now snoozes and suckles right alongside her chubby puppy littermates as "mom" grooms and looks after them all.
After they are vaccinated and receive spay/neuter surgeries, the dogs will be ready to be put up for adoption in about six weeks, Gomez said. Noah's Bark, based in Manhattan Beach, holds weekly mobile adoptions at the Petco at the Crossroads shopping center at Lomita
and Crenshaw boulevards from noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
"She's an excellent mom," Gomez said of Jolie. "She takes such good care of all of them. She's so nurturing."
But the mom is malnourished and needs some nurturing herself, Gomez said, adding that the dog, ready to give birth, was brought in by a household that had too many dogs that had not been spayed or neutered.
"She's an older mom, she's at least five years and maybe is eight or nine years old," Gomez said.
The male kitten - who is now able to take some solid food as well as continuing to nurse - will also be neutered and be passed on to one of Gomez's friends who does kitten rescue to find a permanent home.
For now, the babies aren't doing much beyond the basics.
"They're still too young to play," Gomez said. "Every once in a while the kitten will put her paw up on them, but all they do now is eat, poop and sleep. In another week or two I'll have my hands full."
The kitten is fitting right in, she said. "I don't think they know any difference," she said. "The kitten always seems to be in the middle of the whole group, sleeping right in the middle of the pile."
Kitten fits right into mama dog's litter - The Daily Breeze