The Kenai Animal Shelter’s after hours drop-off kennels will no longer be available for use as of December 31.
The outdoor kennels, which have been available for over a decade, allow people to drop-off stray or unwanted cats and dogs when the shelter is closed. The kennels are being removed because people have provided insufficient information about the animals. Also, weather conditions could be dangerous to animals left outside.
According to information released by the City of Kenai, the shelter took in 326 animals in 2013 from the after hours drop-off kennels alone. Currently, there are three kennels for dogs and two for cats.
Kenai Animal Control Officer Stacie Mallette said that the kennels were originally intended as a last resort for when someone needed to put an animal in a kennel quickly. However, she said that it has become an easy way for people to get rid of a pet.
“The drop-offs are very handy, but they aren’t being used effectively,” Mallette said.
Mallette said that when people leave animals in the after hour kennels, they rarely leave information about the pets, which makes adopting them out to a suitable family more difficult.
If provided with information such as the animal’s age, temperament and health, Mallette said that the shelter could place the animal in a family more easily.
“The more information we have on an animal, the quicker we can adopt it out,” Mallette said.
When no information is provided, the shelter doesn’t know if an animal is unwanted or a stray. If there is no information, the shelter brings the animal in and keeps it at the facility it for 72 hours before adopting it out in case an owner claims it.
Another reason for the kennel’s closure is to prevent animals being exposed to dangerous elements. While there is a sign that states animals should not be left when temperatures are sub-zero, Mallette said that people commonly ignore it.
“We’ve had people leave animals out there at 10, 15, 20 below,” she said.
Marianne Clark, an Animal Control Officer at the Soldotna Animal Control, said the Soldotna facility used to have after hours drop-off kennels, but closed them down many years ago. She said one of the reasons Soldotna no longer uses after hour kennels was because children started playing in them and once a child was accidentally locked inside a kennel.
Clark said that there are many reasons people use after hour drop-off kennels, but she believes one of the biggest is to avoid paying the fees associated with giving up a pet.
According to its website, the Soldotna Animal Control charges up to $25 to drop-off an animal. Mallette said that Kenai’s Animal Shelter charges up to $15.
Mallette said that people also might be ashamed about bringing an animal to the shelter.
“A lot of people are scared to (come inside the Animal Shelter) and say they’re giving up their dog, but you need to,” Mallette said. “It’s OK if you have to give up your dog, just give us some information.”
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