The Franklin County Animal Shelter in Farmington says someone left a kitten inside a vacuum cleaner box outside the facility’s door Thursday while the temperature hovered just below freezing.

In a post on its Facebook page, the shelter said a workers opened the door to walk a staff member’s dog around 10:30 a.m. and found on the front step a vacuum cleaner box, taped shut, with holes poked through it.

Inside was a kitten; outside, the temperature was 31 degrees.

“We don’t know how long the kitten was there. It’s been over an hour since any staff was outside,” the shelter posted late Thursday morning. “The poor kitten is fine but beyond terrified. It flew out of the box once the tape was peeled back and circled the office several times before we were able to catch him.”

The shelter said people have dropped off animals like that before, but the shelter has asked the public not do that.

“We recognize some people feel their circumstances are so dire they can no longer keep their animals,” the shelter wrote, but instead people should contact their local animal control officer to surrender an animal or turn in a stray.

Otherwise, the shelter asked that people communicate with them “to ensure the cat’s well-being.”

“We have a doorbell that works very well for getting our attention during our closed but staffed hours,” the shelter wrote.

The nonprofit shelter, which has 80 cats and 11 dogs, is staffed starting at 7 a.m. and opens to the public at noon.

Dory Diaz, website and volunteer coordinator at the shelter, said Thursday’s abandoned kitten was the third such instance this year at the shelter. On Monday, two kittens were left in a carrier outside the shelter, and the staff checked after hearing a car door shut, Diaz said. Another cat was left outside the shelter earlier this year.

Diaz said the shelter has posted about such incidents on Facebook “not to point fingers” but to “educate the public and let them know they can communicate with us, because our priority is the animal.” She said that shelter is willing to waive an animal surrender fee — $50 for a dog and $30 for a cat — for someone who cannot afford it.

Diaz said she thinks people have abandoned animals outside the shelter because they don’t understand the options.

“I think it’s lack of awareness. People don’t realize we’re willing to work with them,” Diaz said.

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