Why you can't drop off stray animals after hours


  • Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region
Years ago, if you found a stray pet wandering your neighborhood at night, you could simply take it to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region and drop it off.

Even when the shelter was closed, there was a line of kennels where you could lock up the animal, along with paperwork you could fill out to leave with it. It was pretty easy, and the staff would pick up the animals come morning.

Those kennels are long gone. Personally, I was unaware of their absence until I tried to drop off a stray kitten at 3 a.m. over the summer. I was surprised to find there was no place to leave the little bundle. I mentioned it to a coworker, who said she found a stray dog after-hours and ended up keeping it in her backyard because the Humane Society wasn't open and could not take it.

We both wondered what had happened to the old system, but we shrugged it off. Yesterday, I got to thinking about it again. See, the Humane Society is part of the Indy Give! campaign. I wondered if, perhaps, the lack of kennels was a budget issue. I rang up Gretchen Pressley, the Humane Society spokesperson.

Pressley got back to me this morning. The kennels, she says, have been gone since about 2010. It wasn't a budget issue, she says. It was a safety issue. Some people were leaving extremely sick or injured animals in the kennels, which should have been taken to an emergency vet. Other times, people were putting cats and dogs in the same kennel. 

Removing those after-hours drop-off kennels was meant to keep animals safe, Pressley says, and it's a trend at shelters across the nation and considered a best practice. The Humane Society does accept animals every day of the year, generally from  8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Animal law enforcement works from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the winter, and calls after-hours are routed through the police (though animal enforcement officers still respond if there is truly an emergency).

In most cases, however, the Humane Society is asking citizens to keep stray animals until they can be dropped off during business hours. 

“We're just really asking the community in those cases to help us out and keep those animals safe," Pressley says.

She adds that the system seems to work pretty well.

“Most people are happy that they’re giving the best care to that animal,” she says.

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