Based on recommendations from an external audit conducted by an animal behavior specialist and animal shelter consultant, Cheyenne Animal Shelter will end the use of drop boxes, which allow people to drop off stray animals when no employees are present. The Shelter will eliminate the drop boxes effective March 15th. Additionally, the Animal Control division will have an officer on call after hours to pick up lost, injured or aggressive animals.
In 2018, the Cheyenne City Council and Mayor Orr asked the Board to conduct an external review of the Shelter’s policies and procedures. The review cited concerns from Sheltervet.org, ASPCA and others that drop boxes could negatively impact the welfare of the animal being abandoned.
“We believe that this is an important step, and it’s one of several that we’ll be taking in the next few months based on the recommendations we received from this audit,” said CAS Board Chair Tammy Maas.
When the Shelter first opened, Board members worried that people would leave abandoned pets outside the building without food, water or shelter. Drop boxes complete with heat and air conditioning were built to allow people to drop off pets safely. Now the trend in shelters is to eliminate drop boxes because they make it difficult for employees to get information about the abandoned animals and they could cause undue stress for injured pets.
In addition to being stressful for the animals, the boxes can also create safety concerns for shelter staff. It’s common for staff to find everything from snakes to aggressive dogs, feral cats, rabbits and other critters in the drop boxes when they arrive at work in the next morning.
In 2018 there were 588 animals left in the drop boxes. They included 525 stray animals picked up by the public and 63 pets that were surrendered by their owners. There were 307 animals that had no paperwork, leaving Shelter employees in the dark regarding the animal’s demeanor, medical history, or owner.
The Shelter hopes that closing the drop boxes will give pet owners the chance to talk with staff about alternative options that could help keep more pets in their homes.
The Shelter will also be altering their hours for accepting animals to open earlier at 8 AM and close at 6 PM. The public can call Animal Control any time for emergencies such as animals with life-threating medical conditions or severe aggression. Cheyenne Animal Shelter reminds the public that abandoning or abusing animals is illegal and carries a maximum penalty of $750 and up to 6 months in jail. All suspected cases of abandonment will be investigated by Animal Control.