Stray pup found cuddling kittens on a cold night in Chatham

It was a cold, snowy November night when a stray dog was found cuddling a litter of five kittens on the side of a county road in Chatham, Ont. Ever since, they've been getting international attention.

The animals have received international attention ever since their story was first shared on social media

Pet and Wildlife Rescue says Serenity visited with the kittens several times at the shelter before they were taken into foster care. (Pet and Wildlife Rescue/Facebook)

It was a cold, snowy November night when a stray dog was found cuddling a litter of five kittens on the side of a county road in Chatham, Ont. — and they've been getting international attention ever since.

The animals were spotted on Nov. 16 in below zero temperatures by a driver who later called the local Pet and Wildlife Rescue Centre in Chatham. The driver was able to subsequently load them all up in her car to meet with an officer who eventually brought the animals to the shelter, according to the shelter's operations manager.

Pet and Wildlife Rescue's Myriam Armstrong said finding the dog, named Serenity, huddled around the kittens in this way was "very, very, very unusual."

"It's the first time it's happened to us. It was really, really cute and kind of a surprise," said Armstrong, adding that she's not exactly sure how the animals ended up together — especially with the kittens lying directly underneath the dog.

"Obviously the kittens find it very comfortable under the dogs, so either she found them and nested with them, or they found her and decided she was a great source of heat."

The animals were in poor condition when they arrived at the shelter. All of them were underweight and flea-infested, while the kittens had parasites on them, Armstrong explained. Since being brought to the shelter, the animals have been receiving medical treatment.

"We're not quite sure if they come from the same place. We can only assume."

'It's just exploded'

In an attempt to find the owners, the shelter shared photos and the story of the cuddling animals. The story has since been shared widely on social media.

"It's just exploded," Armstrong said. 

"We have people e-mailing us from Texas, California, Europe, Australia."

Chatham Pet and Wildlife Rescue operations manager Myriam Armstrong says Serenity is a 'goofy' dog that craves interactions with people. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

The shelter has yet to hear from anyone claiming the two-year-old Serenity or the five-week-old kittens as their own.

The kittens are now with a foster family, while Serenity was put up for adoption a few days ago. The kittens will also be put up for adoption once they're old enough. 

The shelter has already received more than 30 official adoption applications, which doesn't include the daily phone calls, as well as the hundreds of Facebook messages and e-mails, they've gotten from members of the public. 

'Goofy, energetic, wants to learn'

Serenity the dog was found keeping this litter of kittens warm on the side of the road in Chatham-Kent. (Pet and Wildlife Rescue/Facebook)

Before the kittens were taken into foster care, the animals were able to visit with one another other a few times at the shelter. However, they eventually needed to be separated in order to give each animal the medical attention they needed. 

Armstrong said the shelter has faced criticism for not keeping the animals together, but explained that the shelter decided it was better for Serenity to get into her "forever home" as quickly as possible, instead of keeping her at the shelter long enough to have the kittens ready for adoption at the same time. 

She added that the shelter is open to helping facilitate the adoption of the dog and the kittens together. Still, Armstrong said it's not necessary to adopt all of the animals as a unit. 

Serenity was found underweight. However, Myriam Armstrong says the shelter has been making sure she gets the food she needs. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

All in all, she said staff members have been excited to see the story receive so much attention. However, she wanted to remind the public that there are thousands of dogs other than Serenity who are also in need of a home. 

In the meantime, Serenity's adoption will likely occur in the next week or so. With all of the attention she's already been getting, Armstrong said she's excited to help Serenity find her forever home and make sure she doesn't get bounced around. 

"She's just goofy, energetic, wants to learn," she said, adding that Serenity is very smart and craves interactions with people. 

"I just hope that all of the kittens find a great home — together or not, and Serenity finds a home where she can be her goofy self and run around and make lots of people happy."