ADL's Twisted Statistical Analysis

Below is an ADL email about LAAS impound, adopt, rescue and euthanize stats with a very biased opinion that they demonstrate Boks’ incompetence.

Most of this stuff is boring to most people, so I will just comment on certain “facts” that they raise.

As you know, I have analyzed LAAS stats beginning during January of this year and I am aware that Boks gets the stats just as everyone else does, then analyzes them and posts extensive analyses on his blog. A few days later, the previous month’s stats are published on the LAAS website on the statistics page.

During February, before ADL went on its rampage against Boks, and when I first volunteered to put statistical and other info on the LAAS website, I saw the stats exactly as given to him and came to the same conclusions as he reached and published. My earlier blog posts published my analyses and results.

Boks did not cook the stats. If they were cooked, it was before the stats ever reached him.

ADL email:

Three skilled individuals from NYC, who are trained in progressive and humane sheltering, went over the stats that the Department of LAAS General Manager Ed Boks, put up on the LAAS web site in October of this year. The below is what they found and concluded. (Note: we must remind you that BOKS ALONE gets the stats and can do with them what he wants.)

The below are quotes compiled from the reviewers.


LAAS (the Department of Los Angeles Animal Services) took in about the same number of cats in 2005-6 as they did in 2004-5 under Stuckey, only 53 less. On the plus side, 431 more cats were adopted, 24 more were redeemed, and 114 more were fostered. But that is washed out by the fact that the New Hope program, as more restrictive than before and a potential violation of the Hayden law resulted in 606 fewer cats being sent to rescue."

Fact: It is still a mystery that Rescuers took 600 fewer cats than the comparable period of 2004—2005. In fact, the dramatically decreased nonprofits’ numbers began during October of 2005, three months before Boks started and continued for the first eight months he was on the job until the trend was reversed two months ago.

Also, the New Hope program did not start officially until June of this year, three months before placements began to go up.

One can more reasonably conclude that the New Hope program reversed a negative trend that started before Boks took control of LAAS, as opposed to assuming that the complexities of New Hope program caused the rescue partners placements to fall even before Boks took over.

34 more cats died in kennel. An animal who dies in kennel is nothing more than a demonstration of poor care. When Boks allows animals to die in kennels to be able to say that there is less killing, it is a horrific thing. Only 24 less cats were killed than the year before, but 42 more were stolen and 38 escaped!"

First, I would note that 34 more deaths is statistically meaningless when we are discussing 21,000 impounds. 34 cats amount to 1/7 of 1%, or 15 out of 10,000. Any conclusion drawn is meaningless and just reflects the bias of the person making the inference that the 34 deaths reflects negatively on Boks' competence. Indeed, using their logic, the 431 more cats adopted means Boks is brilliant at creating new adoption opportunities.

In addition, in October 2006, under Boks' charge, 17 cats died while in the pound as opposed to October 2005 when 38 died. One could say that he cut the kennel death rate in half. In any event, animals will die while in the kennels, coming in sick or injured or catching a fatal illness when inside.

The real issue would be whether that death rate is out of step with the mortality statistics of New York, Chicago, or any other major city.

On top of that, I see the death-in-kennel year total under Boks actually was 392 compared to the comparable period of the year before of 430, a decrease of 38 souls. So I don't know the methodology of the ADL experts.

The experts go on to tell ADL-LA that:"In the end, IF BOKS STATS ARE EVEN TRUE (which is dubious because Boks has a history of fixing numbers as well as the algorithms in the Chameleon program.

What an idiotic assertion. If Boks cooked the books, why would not cook them good? Why would he not have shown 16,000 were live releases out of 18,000 impounded, and of those releases, 12,781 were adopted out by LAAS?

Besides, Boks has offered ADL, Pam and Jerry unlimited access to the department statistics and the methodology by which they were obtained. Boks was refused. The only issue they were interested in was who was going to be made Assistant General Manager.

Taking the numbers of animals killed and who died as a function of intake, (12,292 killed and 427 died of 20,859 live impounded), 60% of cats lost their lives, compared to (12,316 killed and 393 died of 20,858 live intakes), 60% last year, no statistical change.

The changes that did occur are not good: 606 less animals to rescue who screens homes, while LAAS gives them to anyone who comes through the door, more animals being stolen and disappearing, and more animal suffering (died while in LAAS custody, a sign of shoddy animal care).

Here we go again, blaming Boks for fewer placements by New Hope partners, while refusing to give him credit for the 431 increased adoptions.

I do appreciate that ADL has somewhat moved away from character assassination to looking at what is important, which is results.

But what I feel is important has never been discussed. The need for methodology and analysis. Why were there so many more neonates impounded and killed in May than the previous year? Why were there so many fewer impounds from October of 2005 through April of 2006 compared with October 2004 and April 2005? Why was there such a dramatic decrease in euthanasia and an increase in adoptions from January through April of 2006 compared to the year before even taking the decreased impound figures into consideration?

It appears there may be a zone of impound numbers specific to LAAS for optimal adoption rates. This may be a function of capacity and personnel numbers. Given impound numbers above or below this zone may negatively impact live release rates. What can be done to expand that zone?

Why did the impound rate begin dropping three months before Boks took over and continue to drop four months into his command, even while the nonprofits took in far fewer cats than the year before, for that same period? What effect did the 39,000 spay neuter vouchers have on owner impounds vs. feral impounds?

You see, until we understand the macrodynamics that govern impound rates, we can never know what causes what, whom to blame or whom to applaud. Boks has made a beginning by publishing stats regarding the whys of owner turn-ins. The reasons and results are not equally significant and efforts should be made to support programs which are the most effective at ending the killing. We need to challenge the accepted assumptions regarding progress to no kill.

ADL and Winograd focus on shelter management and marketing efforts. Comparisons between Ithaca and LA shelter techniques is comparing apples to oranges. Even comparisons between Rancho Cucamunga, L A and Philadelphia have little meaning without knowing the human and cat/dog demographics as well as the dynamics of the feral cat populations, and the specific policies regarding impounds by these various shelters.

So much depends even on the topology of the collection areas we talk about.

For example, San Francisco is effectively sea-locked. Cats cannot come pouring into the city from three directions as is the case in LA, but only one, therefore any feral “vacuums” created by successful TNR would be filled more slowly in SF compared to LA, making the SF problem more manageable.

If the feral population is a function of a "natural" feral density, then any population decreases caused by TNR successes in the Central city area will be replaced by cats emigrating from areas of higher population and food competition to the new, less populated areas, negating even successful TNR programs unless we have area-wide plans and resource allocation.

We cannot be successful in LA City without the County being successful. This must be obvious to anyone who thinks.We need to understand the dynamics of urban cat populations on a regional basis in order to formulate successful strategies for killing fewer animals.

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