Pictured: High Desert Cat Rescue Director Debbie McGallion pets one of her charges at the “Cathouse” in downtown Globe. There will be a fundraiser for the rescue on June 16 at the Gila County Fairgrounds. Photos by David Abbott.
In an area rife with predators, such as owls, coyotes and javelinas, as well as people who do not like cats and will treat them with casual cruelty, the High Desert Humane Society (HDHS) offers short- and long-term care for animals that are often seen as outcasts of human society.
The cat rescue facility, affectionately known to those familiar with it as the “Cathouse,” is across Broad Street from the Drift Inn, whose owners sold the 100-plus-year-old building to the Humane Society in 2012. According to local lore, the building was an actual “cat house” in the historical sense of the word.
“We give them a good life even if it’s the only home they ever have,” volunteer Jean Fitts said. “They’re happy to be here.”
Fitts is one of five local cat lovers at the heart of the rescue, who devote large swaths of their time to caring for dozens of unwanted cats.
“People don’t realize how much work it is and it’s just the five of us,” Rescue Director Debbie McGallion said. “People like to give to dogs, but they forget about cats and our donations recently are way down.”
HDHS Cat Rescue is a well-appointed “no-kill” facility that functions entirely on donations and volunteer efforts. The biggest annual fundraiser of the year for the 501(c)3 nonprofit is coming to the Gila County Fairgrounds on June 16. Caturday Night Fever, a 1970s themed gala with silent auctions and a raffle featuring two handguns.
There will even be a dancefloor, so attendees can break out their’70s attire and boogie down to songs from the soundtrack of the famous disco movie “Saturday Night Fever.”
Funds raised at the event will help maintain the facility that operates under the radar in Globe but provides an important function in the community.
“I was at the rescue [recently] feeding and giving meds to the cats,” McGallion said. “Two men knocked on the door who had found three, 3-week-old kittens when they were helping a friend move. We are at capacity, but when we are faced with an emergency such as this, we jump into ac-tion and figure something out to take these babies in.”
When the Cathouse hits capacity, excess animals are placed in foster homes in the community until space is available. When there are no foster homes available, HDHS turns to the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA (AAWL & SPCA).
The AAWL is the largest and oldest no-kill shelter in Arizona, founded in 1971 by a group of con-cerned animal lovers, led by Amanda Blake, best known as Miss Kitty on the television program “Gunsmoke,” according to the nonprofit’s website.
In 2005, the Arizona Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) merged into AAWL.
“Getting foster homes has been pretty tough,” Fitts said. “We recently had a woman ask if we need-ed a bottle feeder for young kittens and her daughter stepped up to help.”
There are times of the year when extra help is needed, such as spring “kitten season,” a time when births are naturally higher than the rest of the year. In the weeks around Halloween, there is a mora-torium on adopting out black cats, as they are often adopted that time of year for purposes that do not have anything to do with giving an animal a loving home.
“You wouldn’t believe what people are capable of doing to cats,” McGallion said. “Especially black cats. We have a hard time adopting them out usually, but we don’t want to see them hurt for no reason.”
The facility opened in April 2012 and McGallion came on in July of that year. McGallion is a boni-fide cat lover, who tears up at times when she talks about her work or remembers cats she has par-ticularly bonded with.
There are several older cats at the facility that will likely spend the rest of their lives in the care of McGallion and her volunteers.
Gracie is one such cat. She was adopted once but was visibly distressed and would not interact with her new owner. When she returned to the shelter, she returned to normal and will likely live out her natural life in the building.
One of the oldest cats in the shelter is Sherry, who was born in 2008 and came to the shelter when her owner died a few years ago.
But overall, McGallion said, animals brought to the shelter are in a better situation than they would have been, even if they end up spending the remainder of their lives there.
“It’s hard when we lose one, because they are part of the family,” McGallion said. “It has to be a labor of love, and sometimes when they get adopted it tears your heart out.”
Thanks to the generosity of the community, the facility was able to expand in 2013, although there is always need for more financial support.
Equally important to operations is community participation and the need for volunteers and foster homes is now more important than ever for the facility.
McGallion is joined by Fitts and Lynne Miller, who have both volunteered for 5 and 1/2 years; a gentleman by the name of George, four years; Sue Spencer, three years, and the youngest volunteer is 15-year-old Cassie Cummings.
The facility is open to the public four days a week but taking care of the animals is a 24-hour a day, seven days per week, 365 day a year responsibility, so the rescue needs to be staffed every day of the year.
Tickets for Caturday Night Fever are on sale at the rescue at 150 W. Mesquite St. for $25, which includes catered pulled pork with several sides. A vegetarian option is also available. Miami Lions will provide drinks for purchase at the bar and a DJ will provide the music.
The event will also feature a calendar auction, with winners featured in the next HDHS calendar. Tickets to win a Smith & Wesson 9 mm Shield or a Walther PK380, a blue lady’s handgun with concealed carry purse, are also available. Tickets for the guns are $10 each or six or $50. Drawings for the handguns will be the night of the auction.
The HDHS Cat Rescue is located at 669 N. Broad St. Globe, and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for more information, call 928-812-4097.
The outdoor area for cats at the HDHS rescue was built in 2013 thanks to the generosity of the community.
Sherry, the oldest cat at the facility, came to the Cathouse after her owner died.
The cats at High Desert Humane Society cat rescue enjoy better lives than they would in the wild.