Friday, September 07, 2007

Keep your eye on the ball...

How often have we heard the expression, “keep your eye on the ball”? This is a phrase we are probably all familiar with, but what does it really mean? According to the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms, it means “to give your complete attention to what you are doing or want to achieve.” That sounds simple enough, but how easy is it really?

According to the Journal of Recreational Mathematics, when playing baseball, keeping your eye on the ball is next to impossible. The human eye cannot track the path of a pitch thrown in excess of 90 miles per hour. To track a ball moving at 100 miles per hour as it crosses home plate, the body must respond at a rate in excess of 1000 degrees per second. And yet, studies show the human limit is on the order of 90 degrees per second. It turns out that batters lose track of the ball as it nears them and extrapolate the data to actually hit it. Amateur batters lose sight of the ball when it is about 9 feet away from them and professionals when it is about 5.5 feet away.

This seems a poignant metaphor for achieving “no-kill” in LA. The closer we get to achieving the goal, the more likely it is that we will lose sight of the goal. The City of LA is among the top five communities in the United States with the lowest, and fastest declining, euthanasia rate. Can we keep our eye on the ball now as it comes barreling towards us at 100 miles per hour, or will we be distracted by disingenuous criticisms leveled against the department about imaginary crises?

For instance, a particularly pernicious criticism that is re-circulated from time to time by people who should know better is that the department is experiencing a shortage of veterinarians. This is simply not true. Despite the fact that there is a national shortage of veterinarians, a shortage that is most severely felt in the LA area, the department has four outstanding veterinarians on staff, with a fifth veterinarian starting shortly. This is as many veterinarians as the department has ever had, and is a good deal more than most municipal shelter systems have or will ever have.

Although the department has seven vacant veterinary positions in the budget, five of these positions were budgeted with an expectation that our spay/neuter clinics would be operational this year. In fact, they are scheduled to open towards the end of the current fiscal year. Filling these five positions before the clinics are open was never contemplated. We expect to have two more veterinary vacancies filled within the next week to a month or two as interviews are now underway.

This is one of many rumors meant to obfuscate the facts concerning LA Animals Services’ progress towards achieving “no-kill”. This progress is demonstrated by the statistics below. As is always the case, LA Animal Services is willing to respond to any concern or criticism. We have nothing to hide and are the first to admit that we need the help and support of the entire community to keep our eye on the ball.

Other criticisms often re-cycled by local armchair activists can be found debunked at:

August 07 Stats:
I want to congratulate all LA Animal Services employees, volunteers, and partners who have been able to keep their eye on the ball as evidenced by producing another solid month where adoptions continued to climb and euthanasia rates continued to decline. On behalf of our community’s lost and homeless animals, thank you to everyone who is a part of the solution!

August 07 dog and cat adoptions combined (1,602) are up 8.75% compared to August 06 (1,473). August 07 cat adoptions (653) are up 24% compared to August 06 (525). August 07 dog adoptions are stable at 949 compared to 948 in August 06.

August 07 dog and cat New Hope placements combined (558) are up nearly 11% compared to August 06 (503). August 07 cat New Hope placements (215) is stable compared to August 06 (219). August 07 dog New Hope placements (343) are up nearly 21% compared to August 06 (284).

August 07 dog and cat Euthanasia (2,072) combined is down nearly 29% compared to August 06 (2,912). August 07 cat Euthanasia (1,268) is down nearly 38% compared to August 06 (2,035). August 07 dog Euthanasia (804) is down 8.32% compared to August 06 (877).

Of the 1,268 cats euthanized in August 07, 29.5% (375) were orphaned neonate kittens. However, 375 represents a 61% decrease in orphaned neonate kitten euthanasia compared to August 06 (981). Of the 804 dogs euthanized in August 07, 34.5% (278) were pit bull/mixes. However, 278 represents a 22% decrease in pit bull/mix euthanasia compared to August 06 (356).

07 Calendar Year-to-Date Stats:
YTD 07 Adoptions are up 11.32% (10,509) compared to YTD 06 (9,602). YTD 07 New Hope placements (3,943) are down 2.59% compared to YTD 06 (4,048). YTD Euthanasia (9,659) is down 26.06% compared to YTD 06 (13,064).

All things being equal, 2007 is on track towards achieving one of the most dramatic euthanasia declines since the department started keeping statistics.

To compare all of LA Animal Services statistics for August, Year to Date, the last 12 months, etc. for dogs, cats, rabbits, others, and more visit