Colorado PACFA Statistics for 2013
I recently got a hold of the PACFA statistics for 2013 for Colorado shelters and rescues reporting on outcomes for homeless pets. The overall numbers are truly encouraging. We had another improvement on the state save rates for the several years in a row.
There are individual organizations that have made some significant changes to improve the positive outcomes of homeless pets. In 2012, I posted about the Denver Animal Shelter (DAS). I could see they had been improving, but there was still a lot that had to be done for the multitude of healthy pets that needed to be addressed.
DAS and some of our Metro Denver shelters are doing very well. Some are essentially No Kill shelters (even if they don’t call themselves that). And Colorado as a whole is doing well, but we are at a point where we can finish the job and save every healthy and treatable homeless pet entering our shelter system.
I am happy to say there has been a distinct improvement in 2013 for my municipal shelter (DAS) and they reached a Live Release Rate of 90%. Now 90% is the benchmark No Kill Colorado has been asking all shelters to make their minimum target, a low water mark if you will. That’s not the end, but it is close. The final target is seeing every healthy treatable pet entering the Colorado shelter system finding its way to a new happy life.
Humane Society of Fremont County
I would like to point out I looked at Humane Society of Fremont County as advocates have kept their eye and have a lot of information there. They were the number 3 story of the year in the local Canon City newspaper. There are others out there that need to improve, but of the high volume shelters in the state, they are at the low end on save rates.
I also would like to point out that pressure from STOP Fremont Humane Society group has forced positive changes in the past year:
- The veterinarian that had botched several surgeries is no longer doing them
- Improved Web Site
- Improved use of social media
- The board has announced they will stop taking pay
- They are looking for a new executive director
- they are creating an advisory board
None of the would have happened without community pressure. In fact, the management either ignored or denied these changes needed to take place. they were all publicly demanded from the STOP Fremont group.
Only the first three has been verified. The other two have not. And depending who they actually hire as executive director, we will not know if that is a positive change or just business as usual.
So I looked at the stats for Fremont for 2013, and then compared them to 2012 at a high level. It’s important to do these and to look at the numbers in more than one way to get the whole story. I made the assumption that these numbers were logged and presented truthfully as there is no evidence we have that is an untrue statement. We work with what we have.
Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
There are two ways to look at this. So I will tell you how they can spin it positively, and then I will show you how they haven’t done anywhere near what they could have. First of all, if you go straight to the percentages, they did much better than ever before on a percentage basis. They can say truthfully their save rates went way up. If it were completely honest, I would say it was because of advocates that have been pushing for better save rates. But there is more to the story that shows how backwards this shelter is. And that there is essentially no excuse for them to achieve anything less than saving every healthy treatable pet that enters their shelter.
In 2013 they saved 90.40% of dogs and 61.96% of cats. If we stop at percentages, this appears to be an improvement.
Now at first glance you would see that they increased lifesaving by more than 12 points on dogs and a whopping 19 point on cats. This would make one want to cheer. And this does provide some encouraging information of what they are capable of doing when they are being monitored.
The flip side of this tells us some more. And here’s the interesting stat you need to understand: They took in far less animals.
In 2012 they took in 1477 live cats and killed one in two, essentially saving 632.
In 2013 they took in 652 live cats and killed two in five, essentially saving 404.
The saved 632 cats in 2012. Which means they should have been able to save about 632 cats in 2013 if they did the SAME exact thing. Instead they saved 404, or 228 LESS CATS (or 36% less cats). So somehow, with more than a 50% decrease in intake, which means far less overall cost to the shelter (every intake costs money, killing them also costs money), less work, more time available for existing employees, etc., they saved less lives in 2013 when it should have been easier than in 2012.
This goes the same for dogs.
In 2012 they took in 1942 live dogs and killed one in five, essentially saving 1517.
In 2013 they took in 1459 live dogs and killed one in ten, essentially saving 1319.
The saved 1517 dogs in 2012. Which means they should have been able to save about 1517 dogs in 2013 if they did the SAME exact thing. Instead they saved 1319, or 198 LESS DOGS. So somehow, with a 25% decrease in intake, which means far less overall cost to the shelter (every intake costs money, killing them also costs money), they saved less lives when it should have been easier than in 2012.
So what does it mean?
Now I would even argue that they may have saved every healthy/treatable dog. They took in less dogs but did a good job with the ones they brought in. But even 90% save rate which they achieved most likely had quite a few dogs that should not have been killed.
And they very well may have, although there are shelters saving 99% of all animals coming in, you cannot account for the number of untreatable pets entering a shelter accurately without looking at every record and assuming that record is honestly and accurately recorded. So we have a low bar of 90%. But that is just because we know from hundreds of No Kill communities that that is the worst case scenario we have found. 10% of the animals being irredeemable sick or hostile. But it is the low bar, the minimum. The number is irrelevant. The number, whatever it is, will be true if your stated mission (and ethical policy and execution of that policy) is to save EVERY healthy treatable animal.
But the cat numbers are telling. To bring in less cats than you saved the year and then still kill many of them is unconscionable. If you can save 600 cats in year one, all things being equal, you should save at least 600 cats in year two. If you take in less or more, that number is what we know you are already capable of without changing. Unless you have gotten WORSE at your job.
The Fremont County Humane Society is still not concentrating on all the right things. They have to take killing off the table as a choice for homeless pets. Euthanasia is for irredeemably suffering animals or dangerous dogs that are beyond the reach of a professional trainer. Everything else is killing.
FCHS Management: You’re paid to save lives. Execute on your promises. Hire a compassionate hard working director. Improve your community shelter. Save every healthy treatable homeless pet that comes your way.