Unexpected guests bunk at Cat World

Group of people with some puppies outside one of the buildings in Cat World
How 14 puppies ended up (temporarily) at the part of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary where cats usually rule.
By Alison Cocchiara

Puppies in Cat World? Why were puppies in Cat World? Did they take a wrong turn on their way to Dogtown? No, these puppies were exactly where they were meant to be, tucked in safe and sound in their temporary home at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary’s Cat World.

This unusual situation began when one animal shelter several hours away from the Sanctuary needed a place to house 14 puppies who’d been exposed to parvovirus — a dangerous and contagious virus for which there’s no easy cure. Another shelter, also several hours away in the other direction, was ready to take them and find them homes, but first the puppies needed a two-week quarantine. It turned out that the Sanctuary had just the spot, and staff and volunteers, that would make the handoff possible.

Best Friends’ goal is for all shelters to reach no-kill in 2025, and that means working together with other animal welfare organizations to save pets’ lives, giving each one what they need to move out of the shelter and into a happy new life.

All hands on deck

“We were basically the waystation until they reached their destination,” says Luis Quintanilla, Best Friends animal care director. “We initially tried to find space for them in Dogtown, but there just wasn’t room at the time. That’s when Cat World jumped in. There was a lull before kitten season started, so they had an open building that could house the puppies during their quarantine period.”

Cat World staff eagerly took on the challenge, transforming their feline-focused environment to accommodate the playful pups. “A group of us met them when they arrived at the Sanctuary,” says Amy Kohlbecker, Cat World director. “We all helped unload them and get them settled in their new home. The puppies were so excited and just wanted to say hi to everyone.”

[When these puppies lost their mom, they found the love they needed in an unusual place — a kitten nursery]

The pups enjoyed their temporary home, chasing each other around and snuggling up for naps, while volunteers and visitors were delighted by the unexpected sight of puppies in Cat World. And really, who doesn’t love puppies?

“It was a fun experience for everyone and a unique opportunity to help the dogs,” says Amy. “Dogtown fostered kittens for us one year when we were out of space. I love that we can all help each other in different ways.”

New adventures abound

The unexpected presence of puppies also brought a new kind of energy to Cat World. “It's a great opportunity for my team to be able to help with a different species,” says Amy. “And it's a fun, rejuvenating type of work to learn how to care for another species.”

[A puppy’s journey part 1: A star is born]

The puppies thrived in their temporary home, and when the quarantine period ended, all 14 bundles of furry canine joy arrived safe and healthy in Nebraska, where homes of their own awaited them.

While the pups may have been unexpected guests, they left furry paw prints on the hearts of everyone at Cat World. And who knows? Some of those puppies might end up sharing a home with a feline friend, and we suspect they'd be perfectly happy with that.

Let's make every shelter and every community no-kill in 2025

Our goal at Best Friends is to support all animal shelters in the U.S. in reaching no-kill in 2025. No-kill means saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved, accounting for community safety and good quality of life for pets. 

Shelter staff can’t do it alone. Saving animals in shelters is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes support and participation from the community. No-kill is possible when we work together thoughtfully, honestly, and collaboratively.

Silhouette of two dogs, cat and kitten

You can help save homeless pets

You can help end the killing in shelters and save the lives of homeless pets when you foster, adopt, and advocate for the dogs and cats who need it most.

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Together, we're creating compassionate no-kill communities nationwide for pets and the people who care for them.

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Sanctuary Cat Dog