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Beagle plays mom to 4 orphaned kittens
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Beagle plays mom to 4 orphaned kittens

Tucson family's dog nurses tiny felines

  • Railey the beagle nurses the four orphaned kittens she took in as her own litter.
    Jackie and Jerry HuckabeeRailey the beagle nurses the four orphaned kittens she took in as her own litter.
  • Jackie and Jerry Huckabee with Railey and three of the kittens the 4-year-old beagle nursed and raised as her own. The Huckabee's other dog, Bella, went along to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona to wish farewell to the trio, who will soon be available for adoption.
    Humane Society of Southern ArizonaJackie and Jerry Huckabee with Railey and three of the kittens the 4-year-old beagle nursed and raised as her own. The Huckabee's other dog, Bella, went along to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona to wish farewell to the trio, who will soon be available for adoption.

A 4-year-old Beagle named Railey recently found herself playing mother to four orphaned kittens when her family took in the 2-week-old felines, said a spokeswoman for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona on Friday.

Railey’s family, Dr. Jackie Huckabee and her husband Jerry, were hoping their canine companion’s motherly instincts would kick-in when she was introduced to the kittens eight weeks ago, said HSSA spokeswoman Lyndsay Bruno.

They weren’t disappointed. Railey, who recently raised her own litter, began nursing the kittens right away.

The kittens belonged to a feral cat that lived on property belonging to Jackie’s father, Bruno said.

Three of the kittens, which are now 10 weeks old, were taken to the HSSA on Friday to be adopted. The Huckabees kept one.

“We wanted to keep them all, but just couldn’t,” said Jackie, who owns Tucson Mountain Dental, in a press release.

“My husband fell in love with the one we named Wilbur. We figured, for Railey’s sake, it was also good to keep one of the babies,” she said.

Dr. Karter Neal, Medical Director for the HSSA, said not all dogs would nurse a litter of kittens.

“It takes a special dog to do this. The chances are greater if the dog has had her own litter,” Dr. Neal said in the press release.

The Huckabees are worried Railey will suffer from separation anxiety, but Dr. Neal said it is no different than if they belonged to her own litter.

The kittens are now being prepared for adoption, Bruno said.

“They all look to be in good health. As long as they meet our weight requirements and test negative for any diseases, they’ll probably be ready for adoption by this weekend,” she said in an interview.

And are the kittens showing signs of separation anxiety after leaving the care of their canine mom?

“They seem to be doing fine. Its typical for them to be a little timid, but kittens are resilient and they’ll adjust easily to their new homes. I’m sure they’ll find homes quickly,” Bruno said.

HSSA's Trap, Neuter and Return program

The HSSA said that there are more 100,000 feral cats living in Pima County. To prevent more feral births, the HSSA has a Trap, Neuter and Return program funded by private donations.

The public can humanely trap the feral cats and bring them to the HSSA to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and returned to the colony.

To find out more about the program visit www.hssaz.org or call the HSSA Spay and Neuter Clinic at 881-0321.

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beagle, cats, dogs, humane society, pets

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