A 50kg rottweiler has taken on the role of father and protector of three abandoned kittens that were left to die in Tauranga.
The trio were found dumped under the Sandhurst overpass last week and taken to Bayfair Vets, which put a post on the Animals of Tauranga website asking for someone to take them on.
Chelles McIntosh responded to the call for help and found her dog Bear was fascinated with the tiny bundles of fur.
The rottweiler liked to lick 2-week-old Inky, Pinky and Ponky clean every time they had finished a feed of milk formula.
"Bear is an absolute mother hen when it comes to babies."
There were 24 rescued hedgehogs in the hot-water cupboard and two chihuahuas sharing the family home. McIntosh had also fostered puppies, which Bear also showed an affection for.
"He just has such a kind, loving nature about him."
The dog trainer said Bear, who was also a dog blood donor, knew he had to be gentle "and just loves them".
Rottweilers were naturally a protective breed and he had taken to sleeping outside the bedroom door and alerting her when the kittens started meowing.
"He comes and finds me when they are crying. It's just him being a typical Rottweiler that hasn't been raised to be aggressive ... and would be a wonderful mother except he doesn't have the right bits."
Bayfair and Papamoa Vets' nurse Mel Bason said that during kitten season the clinic often looked after, rehomed and rehabilitated kittens but could not take cats despite growing demand.
"We have had quite a few wild kittens that hiss and launch at us that we have managed to tame and rehome." It was also common for different animals to take care of each other.
"People say cats and dogs hate each other but I have four dogs and three cats and they are best friends. When I grew up we had a dog that would mother. She would do everything from keeping a lamb warm to cleaning wild rabbits, ducklings or chickens."
Once they were weaned off the bottle, Inky, Pinky and Ponky would return to the vet clinic where a search for new homes would begin, Bason said.