Thursday, November 01, 2007

Madison's cat-numbers

we initially sought out the basic "cat-numbers" so that we could get an updated quantification of the problem. as "no-killers" we generally define the problem as the unneccessary killing of cats by animal-shelters and animal-control agencies. we had some trouble getting an updated picture of the problem until some recent data was released on the DCHS website.

once we had the basic data we were looking for - intake and shelter-kills - the graphs were easy to lay out. we included the adoption (placement) numbers as well, since they are a major factor in raising save-rates.

the save-rate graphs themselves turned out to be the most interesting to look at. i say graphs, although initially we were only looking at the cat-numbers (back to where this began). but the dramatic decrease in save-rates over the last five years really demanded that we graph the dog numbers as well. we heard over and over from dog-lovers, rescuers, and shelter-volunteers that we were "practically No-Kill when it comes to dogs". we needed to find out. (more below)

it turns out they were almost right. our community has saved over 80% of the dogs arriving at DCHS in the last three years (79% four years ago). given the context we find ourselves in - killing one out of every three cats that we take into our local shelter - perhaps we should assume they are right and focus our energies where we can make the greatest lifesaving impact.

i am sure there will be much discussion regarding the fairness of such an oversimplified metric for measuring lifesaving success, but can you really suggest a more appropriate one? it just seems to me that many are eager to wave the "rescue" banner. i am fine with this and i wave it proudly myself. but it is this criteria that frustrates me as well. it implies that we are in service not to a group of humans, but to an individual animal. if this is true, then we must be ready to acknowledge failure when it is appropriate to do so. this would be that time.

rescue isn't a title you earn by supporting a systemic failure to provide lifesaving services. i take personal offense at a van emblazoned with "animal rescue" that picks up a collarless cat and takes it to a building with a 1-in-3 chance of being killed. that is not customer-service. if rescue is our game and that cat is our customer, we need to rethink our approach. that's not service.

i'm done ranting. i'll just post my thoughts on the stats and say hello again. thanks for taking a peak...


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