Group addresses need for special rescue items for animals

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Everyone knows that First Responders come prepared to handle emergencies. They have all the equipment needed to stabilize a person in distress or help them out of a bad situation.

But what happens when that bad situation involves an animal? Dogs, cats, horses and other companion animals can also be in crisis situations and firefighters, police and other first responders need equipment to handle those emergencies as well.

On Wed., Sept. 26, Chief Jerald Monahan, Apache Junction Police Department (AJPD); Chief Paul Bourgeois, Apache Junction Fire District (AJFD); and their staffs along with Chip Wilson Apache Junction Council Member, also representing Superstition Horsemen’s Association; Marta St. James, Gold Canyon DOG PAW Alert; and special guest Maria Peck, Founder of The Fetch Foundation accompanied by Emma, a service dog in training met to discuss this very problem.

The meeting had been requested by Mark Gomez, AJFD, and Maxine Brown, Volunteer at AJPD Paws and Claws Care Center, to bring interested parties together regarding FIDO Bags. FIDO Bags are kits containing supplies and equipment to save dogs, cats, horses and other companion animals in crisis situations that firefighters, police officers, and animal control officers come in contact with.

FIDO Bags are currently in use by the Glendale and Mesa Fire Departments and are small enough to fit in undersized spaces on trucks. A larger version of the bag is also available when requested.

An anonymous donor has given funds to place four small FIDO Bags with the AJFD. Funds donated to Paws and Claws Care Center that are managed by the Friends of Apache Junction will be used to purchase the remaining bags for AJFD and as needed for the Animal Control trucks.

Superstition Horsemen’s Association may become involved. Training by next month is being discussed by the agencies attending the meeting. Training involves two hours provided by Dr. Cliff Faver of Animal Health Services located in Cave Creek.

Other issues to be resolved are finding a 24-hour on-call veterinarian service in cases where additional treatment is needed for the animal and housing the animal in cases where the owner is unable to immediately retrieve the pet. Pancake fundraisers may be scheduled to establish a fund to offset emergency veterinarian costs when owners are unable to cover these expenses themselves. All parties agreed to meet again and discuss these issues.

It is amazing what can be accomplished when heroes sit down to discuss local concerns. The efforts of this government collaboration between AJPD and AJFD with non-profit agencies:Friends of Apache Junction, The Fetch Foundation, Superstition Horsemen’s Association and Gold Canyon DOG PAW Alert joining together for a successful conclusion is exemplary of good community relationships working on behalf of the citizens they serve.

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