Well, if nothing else, perhaps my opening remarks to the LA animal welfare community will serve as a catalyst to bring to light some of the festering issues that may be preventing us from working together. One such issue it seems is the numbers reported by LAAS.
I was forwarded an e-mail from a person offended by my February 9th speech who also took issue with LAAS' numbers. Here is what this person had to say, (in italics), and my response will follow:
"Those of you who've taken a few moments away from being dysfunctional (I'm being sarcastic for you sensitive types) in saving the lives ofanimals and been able to review Mr. Boks' blog may have run across this crushing example from the speech he made...
'Right here in Los Angeles we live with a Katrina like disaster everyday. But because our disaster has so blended into the backdrop of most people's everyday lives no one outside of this room seems to notice. And we're so busy fighting among ourselves that no one is likely to notice any time soon. Let me give you just one example of how our collective dysfunction is affecting the animals in LA. The number of animals rescued from LAAS by our rescue partners in January 06 compared to January 05 is down 24%.'
Now I have to admit, there's little credibility to the statistics published on the LAAS website but it's interesting to see the difference in what Mr. Boks is saying and what is being reported. (The following statistics are from the LAAS website.)
New Hope Adoption Totals (rescue partners)
Jan 05 = 517 Jan 06 = 749
Up by 44.9%
Adoptions (other rescues? and shelter adoptions)
Jan 05 = 1085 Jan 06 = 1243
Up by 14.6%
Jan 05 = 1092 Jan 06 = 981
Down by 10.2%" End Quote
First, let me apologize to anyone offended by any of my comments on February 9th. But I do hope we are all agreed that the number of animals dying in LA is a local disaster. My only point is, and has been, that it is a disaster we can better address by working together.
I can understand the confusion of the author of the e-mail above. LAAS recently implemented a new program called Plus One/Minus One. This program compares the adoptions, New Hopes and euthanasia rates of dogs and cats only on a day to day basis to last year. This means the reporting period for January 05 is actually 1.2.2005 through 2.1.2005 to accomodate the shift in days between the two years.
Plus One/Minus One is an internal program designed to encourage staff, volunteers, and partners to place more animals and kill fewer animals every day compared to the same day (not date) as last year. These statistics more accurately compare apples to apples, whereas the monthly stats refered to above compare calendar months, but not in any direct analytical way. In addition, the stats referred to above include rabbits, and all wild and exotic animals and pocket pets. The Plus One/Minus One numbers I quoted in my speech refer only to dogs and cats.
LAAS is in the process of improving the ways we compile and report our statistics to make them more useful and meaningful for both staff and the public. Since we just started this process in January we will be refining our processes over the next few months.
The numbers for dogs and cats I referred to in my speech came from the following report:
New Hope Adoptions
Jan 05 = 396 Jan 06 = 301
Jan 05 = 1064 Jan 06 = 1101
Jan 05 = 997 Jan 06 = 744
A more thorough breakdown comparing dogs and cats separately can be found on our website.
However, the New Hope number I referred to in my speech is not accurate. Because our query asked for all the New Hope Adoptions it only pulled up those placements resulting in an adoption transaction. LAAS often waives fees to partners in the interest of getting animals at risk into a safe haven as quickly as possible. This means that sometimes there is no transaction fee. New Hope placements without a transaction fee were not reflected in the original query. So we changed the query to include all New Hope Placements with adoptions fees and otherwise. When we re-ran the report to include all New Hope Placements the results are as follows:
New Hope Placements
Jan 05 = 431 Jan 06 = 380
Certainly not as bad as I reported in my speech, and I apologize for this mistake, but regardless of which report you refer to, my only point was, imagine what we could do to improve these numbers if we were only working more closely together.
Nobody at LAAS claims to be perfect. We are doing the best we can. Do we need help? Yes, of course we do. I trust the numbers we are reporting. However, I would like to invite the author of the e-mail above, along with anyone else interested in finding out more about how we collect and report our data, to schedule an appointment to visit with me and our IT team to talk about your concerns. Just contact my office and ask that your name be added to the list and we will schedule you for a visit with us.
I know we all agree that having numbers we can all trust is an essential step to achieving no-kill and we will do our best to restore that trust. All we ask is that the community work with us.