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Some Storage Has Gone to the Dogs

In late July, 10 dogs were found locked in a unit at a Pennsylvania self-storage facility. Storage managers must be vigilant not only to ward against crime, but sometimes to protect tenants from poor judgement.

Amy Campbell

August 8, 2008

3 Min Read
Some Storage Has Gone to the Dogs

A dog owner was recently charged with animal cruelty after it was discovered that she had penned 10 of her Shelties in a self-storage unit in Honesdale, Pa. The dogs were discovered in the unit on July 24, after they had been seen crated in a local garage two days earlier. According to an article in the Wayne Independent, the owner told State Dog Warden Jim Rickert that the dogs had only been in the storage unit for a couple hours. They are now in protective custody at the Dessin Animal Shelter in Bethany, pending the outcome of a court decision. Five of the dogs required medical treatment for ailments including ear infections, flea infestations and flea allergies.

How did authorities learn about the dogs? The article said it was an anonymous tip. It could have been a fellow renter who witnessed the dogs being put in storage or heard them through the door. It might have been a guilt-addled acquaintance of the woman. But I'm hoping it was the facility manager, who might have determined the dogs' presence during a routine walk-through of the property.

I'm currently in the process of creating courses for the new Qualified Storage Manager continuing-education program being offered this fall by our Self-Storage Training Institute. Just this week, I worked with one of our instructors to create a class that addresses the essential duties of a self-storage manager. One of those very key tasks is a daily inspection of the property being managed. In fact, managers should be walking through their sites two to three times per day. This will help them accomplish several things:

  • Minimize trash and clutter on the property.

  • Keep informed of any maintenance issues, vandalism or damage on the property.

  • Conduct lock checks and keep aware of any changes in unit status.

  • Let renters know there is a vigilant managerial presence on the property (and hopefully deter crime).

The daily facility inspection may be more important than you think. As a manager or other facility employee, you aren't just responsible for keeping the property in good condition, your owner counts on you to be knowledgeable regarding on-site activities. Simple vigilance can help spare your operation from the woes of theft, vandalism, drug activity, illegal dumping and—sometimes—sheer stupidity.

Tenants can exercise very poor judgement. We've all read stories in the paper or on the Self-Storage Talk forum about people who attempt to live, engage in affairs and conduct crime in storage units. Just this week, I read about a guy who got busted for growing pot in his unit, and another who was caught running an illegal scrap-metal business out of his.

And then there are our poor little Pennsylvania Shelties. Sometimes it seems like storage really has "gone to the dogs." But someone saved the flea-infested pups from their imprisonment, and I'm sure similar good deeds are done at facilities around the world by managers and renters who are conscientious enough to watch, listen ... and contact the proper authorities.

If you're a little lacking in your property-inspection routine, check out this helpful article, written by Donna May of Cross Metal Buildings published in a past issue of Inside Self-Storage. It doesn't include a daily walk-through routine, but it does provide a very thorough overview of the types of items you should regularly examine on your property:

Making Maintenance Work

If you have a daily checklist that works well for you, please share it with fellow readers by using the "Leave Comment" button below.

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Editor, Inside Self Storage

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