Ten years ago, a Chow/Golden Retriever mix was found abandoned in Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “We anticipated his age then to be about two years old, making him 12 now,” Arizona Humane Society spokesperson, Bretta Nelson, shared with atombash.com during a recent interview. “He was rescued from a standing pool of water by our Emergency Animal Medical Technicians™ and his paws were so injured and raw that he needed medical care consisting of daily soaking, cleaning and bandage changes, hence the name Boots. The main Louisiana shelter was full so we brought him back to our makeshift shelter in the parking lot of a Salvation Army before transporting him back to Arizona.”
An estimated 600,000 pets were killed or stranded due to Hurricane Katrina. “The Arizona Humane Society deployed multiple emergency response teams, including our Emergency Animal Medical Technicians™ and medical staff, to Louisiana over several weeks to assist in the animal rescue efforts,” Nelson explained. “In the end, AHS ended up bringing more than 200 animals back to Phoenix for continued medical care as we searched for their owners.”
Boots made the journey to Arizona only to discover he had already met one of his soon-to-be new parents. “Boots’ mom, Susan, was an AHS staff member at the time of Hurricane Katrina and was on the ground in Louisiana and met Boots there,” Nelson said. “At the time, she did not have plans to take Boots in, but when she returned from Louisiana and got off of the plane in Arizona, she found out that her beloved dog, Ladybug, had unexpectedly passed away. It was at that time, that she and her husband, Bob, decided to foster Boots as part of the Arizona Humane Society’s foster hero program, which then lead to them adopting him and now, here we are, ten years later! Susan remains a volunteer with AHS and both she and Bob are devoted AHS foster parents.”
In the decade since Hurricane Katrina, Boots has become an integral member of this Arizona family. “He has two canine sisters (8-year-old Abbey, 10-year-old Annie), five feline siblings and typically a litter of foster kittens to play with,” commented Nelson.
Additionally, Boots has found a very special job at AHS as a kitten nanny. In May 2014, AHS opened its Kitten Nursery and intensive care unit to save and rescue more felines. The program operates from April/May through October/November every year. In its inaugural season, the program enabled AHS to save an additional 490 kittens, on top of the hundreds of other animals they rescued.
In an October 2014 press release, Liz Truitt, AHS feline specialist, shared wh Boots’ job in the Kitten Nursery is so important. Quite simply, the sooner a kitten is introduced to a dog, the more comfortable the feline will be when comforted by canines in the future. The makes it easier to adopt kittens, as families are more likely to take home an animal that is comfortable around other pets.
A fun-loving canine, Boots takes his responsibilities as a kitten nanny very seriously. “Boots puts on his kitten nanny vest and spends a minimum of one day a week in the nursery where his mom and AHS volunteer, Susan, helps slowly introduce kittens to him,” explained Nelson.
First, through the kennel doors or mesh tents to gauge their response to Boots. If they are extremely shy or fearful we will not take them out to meet Boots. For those who are fearless and interested, we will then put them together with Boots and let them go at their own pace as far as getting to know him further. Some will ignore him and play by themselves or with their siblings, some will stare at him wondering what type of big cat he is, and many will climb all over him like a jungle gym.”
Boots is an active AHS volunteer, taking his handsome face and sweet personality on-the-road. “Boots is such a gentleman and in addition to volunteering in the kitten nursery, he also visits many schools, attends many speaking engagements and takes part in a variety of media appearances and AHS events,” said Nelson. “He was the recipient of the Friends of Animal Care and Control’s Hero Awards this past February as well.”
Author M.K. Clinton wrote in her book, The Returns, “The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” Can you imagine our world if every creature was as kind, strong, and tender as Boots?