Shelter director Tammy Davis said she took a lot of factors into consideration before deciding to do away with the outside kennels, which have allowed residents to drop off unwanted animals after hours.
As of Saturday, the cages will be removed, and all animals will have to be brought in during regular business hours from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the week.
In addition to chipping away at intake numbers, Davis said animals left at the drop boxes are left with no information about potential medical conditions, vaccination history or any behavior issues that would otherwise help staff place the animal in a good home. Strays left in the drop boxes with no information on where they were found also have a smaller chance of being reunited with their owners, Davis added.
While drop boxes used to be standard for animal shelters, Davis said the practice is falling out of favor because animals are left with no information. Davis said the shelter has also had problems with people stealing animals out of the cages to sell.
“All of the large animal welfare groups tell shelter directors that the first thing we need to do is get rid of our drop boxes,” Davis said. “We hope that people will do the right thing and bring them to us during operating hours so we can get as much information on them as possible and hopefully find a home for them. The more we know about the animal, the better chance we have at finding them a new home.”
To combat potential issues with people leaving animals on shelter grounds or in the parking lot after hours, Davis said the shelter will use video surveillance and post a sign reminding the community that animal abandonment is illegal.
Last year, the shelter took in 175 animals through the drop boxes; that number ballooned to 232 animals left in the cages through July this year. With the drop box system, Davis also said there’s no way to know if animals are being left from outside of the county, which contributes to the overcrowding problem at the shelter.
“If we continue to take animals from surrounding counties, that takes up cage space and eliminates room for animals of Washington County,” Davis said. “I wish we could take care of all the animals in the world, but we just can’t do that.”
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