Jemmie the dog loves kittens -- so much so that she's been donating her blood to help save them from potentially fatal eye infections, according to the Sacramento SPCA (SSPCA).
Recently, two 5-week-old orange kittens with bad ulcers and infections in their eyes were rescued as strays and brought into the shelter, according to SSPCA foster care coordinator Sarah Varanini, who's also Jemmie's owner.
In addition to antibiotics, the kittens have been getting drops of a special serum developed from Jemmie's blood in their eyes, Varanini told ABC News today.
Certain factors in the serum "block the enzymes in the diseased eye that damage the cornea," helping to accelerate healing, according to veterinarian Dr. Lauren Siperstein-Cook, who's the SSPCA's chief of shelter medicine.
Kittens are particularly susceptible to eye infections, according to Varanini, especially strays who haven't received any medical attention.
"We could use cat blood since the important factors are the same," Siperstein-Cook told ABC News today. But since dogs are bigger, it's easier to draw blood from them, she explained.
Varinini said Jemmie "has been donating her blood to kittens for a couple of years," along with a few other SSPCA staff members' dogs. The dogs' blood donations have been able to save the sight of dozens of kittens, she said.
"This morning, I just massaged her chin and we were able to draw some blood from Jemmie's jugular vein and she didn't even notice," Varanini said. "Of course, she got a bunch of treats after, so for her, donating blood is a fun thing."
Varnini added that her dog has also served as a "surrogate mother" to numerous kittens she's fostered and that she actually adopted Jemmie from the shelter a few years ago because of how good Jemmie was with her own cats at home.
"Jemmie loves kittens," she said. "She cleans them, lets them topple all over her and play in her beard."
The pup has also gotten a chance to play with the two orange kittens she's currently been donating her blood to, Varanini said.
"They had a little photo shoot, and she got to say hi and lick their faces," she said. "It was really cute."
Varanini said that the veterinary staff are hopeful that they will be able to restore full sight in both eyes for one of the kittens and at least in one eye for the other.
"I think what's really neat about all this is that Jemmie, a dog from the shelter, is now able to give back to the shelter in a nice way," she said. "I'm sure if she could talk, she say the same thing."