Cruelty conviction spotlights “dropoffs”

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1999:

COUNTY, Tennessee––Dale and
Cheryl Brainard, of Lorain County, Ohio,
were on September 27 each fined the maximum
$750 and ordered to perform 50
hours of community service for leaving
their starving and ill Great Dane in a dropoff
pen outside the Medina County Animal
Shelter on the subfreezing night of
February 25. The dog died six days later.
The Brainards testified that they did not
see leaflets warning that animals should
not be left after hours in cold weather.
The Medina abandonment case
oddly enough provoked none of the international
outrage associated for more than a
year with the mere existence of similar
animal drop-off facilities at Murfreesboro
and Smyrna, in Rutherford County,

Three hundred people rallied by
the Tennessee group Volunteers for
Animals on August 28 presented 70,000
petition signatures to county officials asking
that the drop-off facilities be removed.
“The Murfreesboro drop box has been
demolished,” a Volunteers for Animals
bulletin reported two weeks later. “The
Smyrna facility is boarded up. Signs state
that renovation is in progress. It is not
clear what the renovation consists of or if
the facility will remain boarded up. But at
this time, both facilities are closed. The
county is left without a spay/neuter or
shelter vaccination program due to political
changes on the Rabies Control Board,”
including the reduction of the board
through resignations and reappointments
from nine members to just two, “and the
severing of ties with the Jessie Beesley
Animal Humane Foundation that provided
those services,” and had also sponsored
and strongly supported the use of the dropoff
Numerous tabloid newspaper,
television, and activist group exposes portrayed
the Rutherford County drop boxes
as uniquely inhumane. ANIMAL PEOP
L E repeatedly pointed out, however,
that although drop-off facilities are often
inhumanely managed, they were considered
a significant advance in preventing
animal abandonment when introduced,
and were used at one time by most major
humane societies; recommendations for
the construction and maintenance of such
drop-off facilities appear on page 193 of
the current edition of the National Animal
Control Association Training Manual,
published in 1989; and drop-off cages or
pens are still commonly used by humane
societies and animal control agencies
throughout the U.S., Canada, Japan, and
Australia which do not stay open on weekends,
or after normal business hours.

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