The founders of a cat rescue organization met with a handful of Duncan officials Saturday to discuss the possibilities of teaming up together.

Although the Town of Duncan has codes on the books, the town doesn’t have anyone on staff who can handle stray animal or barking dog calls. There are no vaccine or microchip clinics, trap, neuter and release programs. There is no one to issue pet licenses, nor any magistrates to issue fines.

The council must decide if they’d like to start their own animal control division, determine if anyone’s interested in starting an entirely volunteer, non-profit or make some sort of arrangement with an existing non-profit like Desert Cat Rescue & Sanctuary, which is based in Safford.

On Saturday, Interim Town Manager Philip Cushman, Councilmember Deborah Mendelsohn and staff member Leah Schrom met with Cheryl and Canute Christensen of Desert Cat for lunch at Henrie Brothers Bakery. They also took a trip to the former electric generator plant on East Avenue which is owned by the town and which Schrom suggested as a possible animal shelter.

The group spent at least 30 minutes on the site, visualizing how a shelter would look on the half-acre plot of land and discussing what grant opportunities are available.

The group also discussed the possibility of Desert Cat making routine trips to Duncan, bringing with them bags of pet food for those who might be in need of assistance. Desert Cat already provides pet food through SEACUS and the Meals on Wheels program for seniors in other locations and suggested they might be able to make similar arrangements with Duncan if they’re successful in obtaining grant funding.

Cushman told the Christensens he’d approach local organizations for their thoughts.

The group intends to meet monthly to continue to discuss the animal situation in Duncan and they hope members of the public will attend.

It would take some time for the town to take on the responsibilities, Cushman said. Not only would the money have to be budgeted for officers and a magistrate, etc., but it would take one year to train an officer and there are only so many places one can obtain the necessary training and only so many times a year that it’s offered, he said.

If and when the town ever hires officers to handle the situation, Cheryl Christensen asked they be called animal protection officers rather than animal control officers.

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