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Getting the Drop on After-Hours Abandonments

A closed shelter doesn’t stop animals from arriving

A closed shelter doesn’t stop animals from arriving

The Oregon Humane Society offered a $500 reward in December 2007 for information leading to the conviction of two people who were caught by the shelter’s security camera illegally abandoning 19 cats early one morning while the facility in Portland was closed. OREGON HUMANE SOCIETY
Your shelter’s got one schedule. The people seeking to drop off pets or strays might have another—or maybe they just prefer to relinquish their animals without having to face another human being. Driven by convenience or shame, the result at many shelters is the same: Dogs and cats are frequently left after hours, when no staff member is there for intake.

The problem has sparked different approaches at shelters, and has driven a decades-long debate over the use of off-hours animal depositories. Some say drop-boxes save the lives of animals who might otherwise be left roadside, but others argue they provide a guilt-free way for the public to dump their pets without providing information that might help a shelter rehome them.

Beyond the drop-box debate, though, shelters struggle with further ways to address the issue. In December 2007, the Oregon Humane Society (OHS) in Portland, a private shelter that does not have an after-hours drop-off facility, took the unusual step of offering a $500 cash reward for tips leading to the conviction of the two people who left 19 cats on the shelter’s doorstep early one cold morning.

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