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Putting the cat back into the bag

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There's another twist in the tale of Afton's cats.

Just a month after the city council voted to deny a request by the Woodbury branch of the Animal Humane Society to pick up stray cats and other domesticated animals in addition to dogs, the city has done an about-face.

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The Animal Humane Society, which acted as the holding facility for Afton's stray dogs, had terminated its contract in light of Afton's refusal to comply, instructing the city it would have to find an alternative impound facility.

At last Tuesday's Sept. 16 city council meeting, members were told Afton's animal control officer had subsequently written to the city, indicating she was likely to withdraw her services if she had to take stray dogs to the alternative facility, Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Maplewood.

Faced with the possibility that the city would have no one to pick up stray dogs and nowhere to take them, council members reconsidered their initial decision.

"I think this was a mistake to switch," said Randy Nelson.

"If she's going to leave as a result of our decision, I think we have to pick up feral cats -- I don't see we have an option," added Mayor Julia Welter.

City administrator Jim Norman was instructed to work with the Animal Humane Society and the animal control officer to obtain a 30-day grace period while the new contract was negotiated.

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