Redbox for Pets: Shelter Drop Boxes Better than Nothing?
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?
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.