I feel lonely because I don'’t get 12 emails a day from a certain reporter talking about what a lousy person I am, vs what a paragon of virtue that she is. ADL has calmed down. No weird telephone calls. No strangers in my neighborhood.
So, what am I left with?
The rescue community, or some in the rescue community, claim the drop in the shelter's kill rates was due to the work they do.
As I see it, 1,114 fewer cats and dogs were impounded during the first quarter of 2006 compared to 2005, a drop of 12%. Adoptions were up 12%, meaning 328 more animals were adopted this year. However, the number rescued from the shelter by rescue organization dropped 19%, or 305 animals, which washes out the progress made by increased adoptions. Therefore, almost all of the life saving occurred because euthanasias dropped 37.7%, or 1,266 animals.It could have been only 961 animals if New Hope adoptions matched last year's pace.
It becomes a little tricky to analyze here because we don't know the number on hand at the midpoints of each month compared to the year before; that is, the inventory on hand was reduced, so simple comparisons are not possible. Therefore, much of the life saving is explained by decreased impounds.
We cannot know the effectiveness of the rescue and TNR work vs. that of the shelter by just comparing impound numbers and percentage changes vs. adoption, New Hope and euthanasia outputs, without shelter by shelter figures, types and source of animals (feral cats, owner turn-ins, ill), age of the animals (i.e., kittens and puppies vs geriatric), internal procedures of each shelter (i.e., is there some internal official or unoffical "rules" that make one shelter better than another in terms of figures?) and what resources were used by community groups in each area.
For example, unless we know the number of feral cats coming into the West LA shelter this quarter vs. the first quarter last year, we do not know the effectiveness of that area’s private TNR programs. If the feral cat input is down dramatically, we need to know what the community groups did in that area in terms of programs and resources vs. LAAS programs. What impact did the various LAAS programs and operations have, such as the spaymobile, vouchers, shelter volume of impounds vs. employee levels, vs. holding capacity?
We need to know which shelters have the highest input rate of unweaned kittens and make appropriate resource allocation changes on that basis. Do we shift rescue efforts to the highest kill areas or try to bring the kill rate down even further in the areas of success?
The same with adoptions. Where has LAAS been most successful, where the least? Can animals be transferred from low adoption to high adoption shelters effectively? Adoptions were up almost 13% during the first quarter of this year, and that is almost totally the responsibility of efforts by Ed Boks and LAAS.
We know that one of the reasons adoptions are way up, is that shelter personnel are, by and large, more friendly and helpful. This has increased adoptions. But have they also deterred owner turnins through education and also decreased owner or feral cat turn-ins? Who responsible for that? Was it spontaneous, or did Ed create a change in attitude? Another reason for increased adoptions is the new website that makes all kinds of information more available.
We also need to know the euthanasia policy. Is it based on the time spent in the shelter? Is there temperament testing so that an animal is killed while there still is space at that shelter? What would be the effects of keeping animals alive when the shelters are at full-capacity vs. having some reserve? What is the capacity of each shelter and what is the occupancy rate? 100% occupancy, I am sure, will result in a higher death rate because of lack of manpower to manage the higher numbers. But if the occupancy rate is too low, due to laziness or other institutional reasons, the death rate will be too high vs. at optimal capacity. Then, the moral question is do we sacrifice and animal to obtain the optimal capacity?
Will the increase in capacity with the new shelters dramatically decrease the death rate through increased adoptions, or will the increase in capacity merely increase the number of animals in the shelters, causing a temporary drop in the death rates?
From my point of view, to keep the feral cat impound rate down and the respective euthanasia rate down, TNR is incredibly important. But we don’t know what percentage of all deaths are of feral cats in our shelters; at least I don’t. In some shelters system around the nation, 35% or more of the entire kill is ferals. This is how Winograd made such a dramatic decrease in his kill rate; no ferals were killed. How he did that, I don't know. I'd have to take Winograd's seminar. Beside increasing support of TNR efforts, I think the LAAS should adopt an unofficial policy of looking the other way when there are complaints of feral cats.
What percentage of shelter euthanasias are kittens? What can be done to assist private groups to increase their ability to foster them? How many kittens and cats are in foster vs. last year? According to Dept figures, not a lot compared to adotions or impounds. What is the euthanasia policy regarding notifying rescue groups of a litter of two week-old kittens? Are they given two hours or ten? How are the respective groups notified? Is there a hot line? Is there email notification or assigned callers/callees?
One major problem arises if the above information were made more transparent; LAAS critics will scream that resources should be put elsewhere into other programs.
How do you measure the effect of chipping animals vs putting the same money into TNR, vouchers or fostering? How much should go for medical? How much for field employees? We know that no matter how the money is allocated some reporter or other critic will find something wrong even while the death rate is plummeting.
Some of this information could be estimated by analyzing programs around the country and trying to figure out the impact of those area’s programs here. Some have to be experimented with here, but it may take two years to see the results compared to money spent in other areas.
It is clear that no matter what Boks and LAAS does, the ADL will complain for whatever reason. However, they are beginning to be exposed as obstructionist and contributing to the kill problem vs. helping solve it, and it seems to have had some small impact on their style, which means they may be able to take a future leadership role in effecting change. But that is not likley to happen soon.
LAAS’s budget may be fixed for next year, but the specific allocation of resources is a variable—I think. Why not use some of the new personnel to help TNR efforts, such as transporting animals and free spay/neuters at area shelters? Maybe that is the plan. I don’t know. If anyone knows, tell me.
What about employees? How do we get rid of the bad ones and promote the good ones? Why are vet salaries so low? Was that set way before Ed came aboard? Can we have a merit system? Can we measure complaint rates per 1,000 animals at the each of the various shelters and figure out what to do? We can measure dropped calls and decreased or increase public complaints. We can measure the increase or decrease of volunteer hours. There are many measures of success or failure.
These are complex questions and I am not sure that heightened transparency will do any more than increase the clamor to dismantle LAAS brick by brink, and Ed Boks, bone by bone.
As an alternative to making every detail available to every reporter or critic who wants to use the data to destroy the dept., I suggest weekly strategy meetings by animal community leaders and lead persons from LAAS to target problem areas and to see how the combined resources can best be used.
San Francisco achieves its low kill rate by having the public and private shelters working togther seamlessly. In LA, the private sector is made up of a hundred different groups that are more difficult to coordinate. Weekly or monthly strategy meetings would increase the coordination and create more of a cooperative relationship.
I wish that LAAS, in its next budget, perhaps even by the elimination of some positions, be able to help the most effective organizations financially, or at least lend manpower to the organizations that most need it, or help those that are most cost-effective.
Right now, none of this is possible given the enormous unwarranted hostility being directed towards LAAS and Ed Boks, who basically has to put a lot of his energy into defense.
Regarding the accusation of my brown-nosing for employment by LAAS, let me state this. Yes, my income is way down due to legal changes in the provision of psychiatric services. Yes there was a sense of desperation in my email. Yes, I would like to work for LAAS doing the sort of analysis, coordination and planning as I outline above. Yes, I did ask Ed for a job. Yes, I was doing my blog anyway because I like doing what I do best: rebuttals and analysis of unwarranted attacks. I do this as a living and I am good at it.
Did Ed promise me a job? No, he passed my request to the appropriate channels based on my recommended suggestions for changes for resource allocation analysis as I suggested above. He never responded that he would help me. He never gave my resume to Personnel. I never sent him one.
Every department general manager gets requests by job seekers. They pass on the resumes and requests to the appropriate persons, whether personnel, or perhaps contract services, which. Stark, as I understand it, characterized my email as begging and that there was a tacit promise of a job by Ed for the blog.
I would note that I had already been writing the blog for seven weeks or so before I hit him up for a job or a contract. After he passed my request to an appropriate person, I never heard from that person. The end. Despite this, I continued with the blog because I felt it was right.
Therefore, Ed did nothing out of policy, nothing that other general managers already do.
I do object that my personal information was released in a general email accompanied by mocking. I am astonished that XXXX's editors would allow this. She repeatedly refers to herself as their employee, which means they are o.k. with her methods and opinions, including personal information within private emails.
Everytime I think ADLLA has calmed down, they come out with a new email that reminds of who they are. They don't seem to realize you've detroyed TM's chances of becoming AGM. She may have been a shoe-in three months ago. She had lots of the animal community behind her. I supported her to Ed Boks. Then you tried to force the issue and things went south for you and for her, just like you did with Stuckey in September. We were stuck with him another three months. Your sense of timing, lack of tact and all-around crudeness just does not work.
Your last paragraph is right on Ed. Pam has done more harm than good. Thank you for having the courage and conviction to stand up to this bully. I wish people would realize that wanting an end to the killing does not require being Pam's disciple. Walking in Pam's footsteps equals walking straight to the death room. She has no concept of how to obtain the goal so, instead, she has infantile tantrums put into words. The press latches on to this sensationalism and her groupies actually think good comes from this kind of coverage. Even worse, they don't care if good comes from it, as long as they see their names in the newspaper. There is a big difference between fame and infamy. I wish people would understand the difference. The blood of many of these animals is on her hands. Sadly, she doesn't even care. It was never about the animals, it was about Pam. Her groupies refuse to see this truth.
I applaud you for standing alone. As they clamor to find fault, please do not waiver from your mission.
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