One of the issues that have plagued our profession is the use of night drop boxes for animals to be left at the animal shelter after hours as opposed to people tying them up at the first available fencepost.
The biggest issue with drop boxes is that the animals rarely come with any background history that you would usually obtain at the time of surrender during regular shelter hours. It is nice to know whether the animal is owned or stray. This makes a huge difference in holding time. If the animal is being surrendered by its owner, we can obtain medical and behavioural information. If the animal is a stray, we can learn as to the area that it was captured.
There are a multitude number of problems that face drop boxes. In Salt Lake County, we had drop boxes that were built into the side of our building so that in the winter, the animals would be warm. We had locks on the doors that would secure the animals from being removed. It would have appeared that we thought of everything; except owners would come in at night looking for their lost pet and open and close each dropbox. Once closed, the boxes became useless to anyone else wanting to drop off an animal. The police would call out our animal control officer to come in and reset the locks. It was a real pain. Our drop boxes became a place for the homeless to sleep. And a neighboring animal control shelter used our drop boxes to dispose of their surplus animals. It is a great way to reduce your euthanasia statistics by dropping off your animals at another shelter at the end of their stray hold period.
There are reports of people “setting free” the animals from drop boxes. In Florida, we had an incident in which the released animals were hit by passing cars.
Given the problems that faced using drop boxes, most shelters stopped using them; they became more of a liability than a public service.