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October 29, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 9 Faves: 0

Redbox for Pets: Shelter Drop Boxes Better than Nothing?

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

Similar to a drop box for shipping packages, a shelter drop box is where people can drop a dog or cat into a bin after hours at a shelter. But these are living, loving, breathing, terrified creatures! Not packages! This method is supposed to help reduce pets being abandoned, but is it a good solution?

Desperate Times?

I recently wrote a blog about Detroit City's crumbling affects on pet owners. The abandonment of pets is astonishing in the city, as many are often uncared for, not spayed or neutered, and left to fend for themselves.

Recently, PetSmart, a pet store in the Detroit area, has been finding dogs abandoned outside their store after hours. Thus far, the dogs have all been Poodle-Maltese Mixes with overgrown fur; matted, dirty, toenails, untrimmed and curled into their paws; and flea infestation. The store managers are reaching out to local rescues to take these severely neglected dogs and are left wondering, why don't the individual(s) contact a rescue themselves?

Unfortunately, there will always be bad owners in the pet world, so would a drop box be a good solution for the above scenarios?

Drop Box Alternatives

This said, proponents of  the "Shelter Drop Box"  system make a compelling argument. Instead of abandoning pets in the city, country roads, at a pet store, tied to poles or left in boxes outside an animal shelter, shelter drop boxes at least provide a warm, safe environment dogs and cats can be abandoned anonymously. One shelter, in North Carolina, has a service at their shelter that allows just that.

The animals being dropped of are separated into individual kennels that securely lock after them to avoid pets being put together. The shelter claims that this makes it a safer option than what they were dealing with: pets being thrown over the barbed wire fence, tied to a post and left overnight (with no shelter), or dropped off and left to wander the area.

However, the North Carolina drop box doesn't always work as planned. Many times, there are pets put in the wrong bins or multiple pets are dumped at the same time causing pets to become injured. Some of these pets are in need of immediate medical attention.

The people that use the drop box want to remain anonymous, obviously. They don't want to deal with filling out paper work or the guilt they may have to face talking to someone at the shelter. If this option wasn't available, many would just abandon their pet elsewhere.

Is There a Better Solution?

What I'd like to see is more education about proper pet care, provide more funding to shelters and rescues, and provide a drop off during open hours at the shelter where only a pet's bio is required to filled out. No personal information of theirs is attached, leaving them anonymous, if still preferred and no judgment is passed.

Would that be the better solution?

In my opinion, it's better then a "drop box."

What do you think?


Life With Dogs - Throw Away Dogs Found Outside Michigan Pet Store

MNN - Are Shelter Drop Boxes Safe for Animals?

Examiner - NC Animal Shelter Uses Drop Box for Unwanted Animals

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  • I also think there needs to be more funding for shelters etc. Throwing an animal in a drop box seems too cruel!

  • Yes, I agree Vendetta, it is plain cruel. There has to be better alternatives. Hopefully, we can all continue to work towards that.

  • I think drop boxes are a horrible idea.. these are living breathing, emotional beings.. can you imagine being dropped in a box in the middle of the night? How would that feel ?
    To say that dogs and cats don't have emotions or reactions to things has been proven wrong through studies.. so this drop box idea is not a good idea .. a better idea would be to just have one person on duty who would take in any animals.. no questions asked. Altho the animal would still be frightened, there would be a human there to offer at least some comfort.

  • I totally agree Marly! thank you for sharing your comment with us.

  • I can't see getting rid of this problem even by making it illegal. Maybe shelters should open better maintained and safer dropboxes.

    If you make it too hard people will just drop dogs on the street. It sounds like the main issue besides the pet being abandoned is what happens when no human is there to respond quickly. For instance multiple dogs going into the same pen. It seems like there should be three shift position to watch these pens.

  • Garchow REALLY!!!! That is why there needs to be more funding. I agree that people will continue to just "drop dogs on the street." But, having these drop boxes are not the solution.

    More funding needs to be provided so these shelters can have around the clock care and be there for take-ins. No living thing should be shoved down a chute (unless we are talking about Santa Clause, he likes to go down a chute, but he isn't real either).

  • I volunteer at a small shelter who use drop box's. But...these are two metal large cages, one on top at another WITH A BLANKET and water bowl. These are easy to reach and deep. You can bring your surrendered animal to them any time during shelter hours. They try to accommodate everyone. The other shelter in the next county has the same set up only with cameras. They are a much better alternative as the animals can't get to one another then the drop boxes I see in the picture. It's not ideal and we wish we didn't have to use them but it's better than the alternative. We try to educate, you can't educate someone who doesn't want to learn. Spay and neuter could solve this very sad situation.

  • Correction, when I said you can bring the animals to them anytime during shelter hours, I was NOT talking about the drop off boxes but the shelter itself during hours. They will always except your animal. Sorry for the misinterpretations.

  • Thank you Melody for sharing your "personal" experience with using a "drop box" type method. Yes, I agree with you that spaying and neutering could solve this very sad situation.

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