FAIRBANKS — It seems like it wouldn’t be hard to tell the difference between a Fairbanks North Star Borough waste transfer site and an animal shelter, but every year animals are left at transfer sites around the Fairbanks area, tied to Dumpsters or locked in their cages and left exposed to the elements.
In a place that sees the extreme temperatures Fairbanks does, this type of treatment can cross the line from being simply callous to willfully cruel.
What makes it even more perplexing to animal control workers such as Sandra Klimaschesky, borough animal shelter operations supervisor, is the fact that there is a safe and humane alternative available 24 hours per day.
“I don’t know if the public knows that the shelter actually has drop-off cages, and they’re heated,” she said. “I don’t understand why someone would even think of dropping off an animal at a transfer site.”
The drop-off cages always are open when the shelter is closed, and the animal will be safe there until the staff arrives, Klimaschesky said. The animal shelter is located at 2408 Davis Road and is open for drop-offs or public visitation Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m, and Saturday noon to 5 p.m.
Cats fare worse than dogs when left out in deep cold weather, according to Klimaschesky.
“Oftentimes in the winter, they have frozen paws,” Klimaschesky said. “We’ve had cats lose the tips of their ears, we’ve had kitties that have had to be put down because their internal organs had started to freeze. There have been some horrific things that we’ve seen.”
In 2011, 28 animals were left at borough transfer sites. Three were dead when found. The remaining 25 represent a large cross-section of domesticated animals — including not just dogs and cats, but more exotic animals such as chickens, parakeets, ferrets, rats, goats and lizards. Last month two turtles were found abandoned in a bucket of water at the North Pole transfer site, but luckily for them a good Samaritan found them before they froze to death.
“That was a surprise,” Klimaschesky said. “We get animals from the transfer sites, but we were surprised at the turtles. They’re still here, and they’ve had some interest. Generally we can place just about everything.”
Animal Control figures for the last eight years show the two transfer sites at Farmers Loop — one at each end — combined to have the most animal abandonments, at 38 percent. Next in line is the North Pole transfer site, with 15 percent of abandonments since 2004.
Klimaschesky has a final plea for those who are considering abandoning an animal.
“Drop them off at the shelter — don’t assume that someone’s going to pick the animal up,” Klimaschesky said.