NY Rescuer Says Boks is Eternally too Optimistic

I had a long talk today with Patty Adjamine, a rescuer in New York who knows Boks well. She said NYACC improved a lot while he was there, but not nearly enough to reach no-kill in our lifetimes. Kill rates have dropped from approximately 78% in 2000 to 52% last year or about 4.3% per year compared to the 2000 figures, but a higher percentage if we calculate from year to year.

Her blog is: http://journals.aol.com/mandy787/TalesTailsofNewYork/

As I pointed out in a previous post, even a 10% improvement each year will not result in no-kill at least until approximately 2018, eleven years away, assuming that no-kill means around 12% are killed. The reason is, a 10% decrease each year means 10% of a declining number of animals killed.

For example, assume we have 20,000 killed a year. A 10% decrease each year will not mean we would have no-kill in 10 years, as each year, a 10% decrease means compared to the year before, not the year one total of 20,000.

A 10% decrease in year one, means 18,000 will be killed in year two, leaving a new base number of 18,000. A 10% decrease in year two, means 1,800 fewer animals will be killed, or 16,200. A 10% decrease in year three would be 1,620 animals, leaving 14,580. Year five would mean we kill 13,100. That is, we have killed 10% fewer animals each year, but after five years, we have decreased the kill rate only 34%.

The problem here is that LAAS made no progress in 2006. At that rate of improvement, we will reach no-kill in year 2156.

She said the two problem areas are pit bulls and cats. She said 6,000 pit bulls were brought in last year and only a fraction adopted. Cats, as here, get shafted. They get less attention from staff and are more frequently dumped by the public.

She said of Boks that he was always far too optimistic and usually painted a far too rosy picture of the shelter system and how no-kill was just around the corner. There was no cooking of the books, no sleaze, no nothing except an unrealistic optimism.

She said that with Boks, you have to hold his feet to the grindstone and expose the unreality of his predictions. Painting too rosy a picture leads to more people surrendering their animals and builds unrealistic expectations.

She agreed with me that spay/neuter was not the final solution, but that targeted education was. I will get to her recommendations shortly and will plagiarize and pawn them off as my own. (A little humor; some of my readers otherwise might say I am being dishonest again.)

I do not know what LAAS is doing in the educational area and I hope the GM report will address the issue.

I do not think Spay/Neuter is the answer. Like Boks and the rescuer in NY, I think the solution is education. Patty refined that to “targeted education” which I will detail in a separate post.


Anonymous said...

I agree that education is a key ingredient but Winograd has stated that humane education is a waste of money. I have read his responses to this question more than once and he is against education. I believe he stated that education is the first thing to cut from the budget. Does Boks feel the same? My best friend is a humane education teacher and I see the results of her work all the time. Whenever I go to the Humane Society, I see kids that she has taught bringing in their parents with their pets for spay/neuter. It has its place along side spay/neuter as the solution. Boks is trying to build up animal control to the public and that is what we should do. But he needs to plant his feet firmly on the ground with the realities.

Anonymous said...

like your blog. It is very informative and well written.

IU was particularly sad to read the entry about the Las Vegas shelter killing 1,000 animals last week.

Las Vegas, along with San Francisco, were the first cities to claim they were going "no kill."

The problem with the "No Kill Movement," is not one of goal, but one of realism and claim.

All of us in rescue, work towards a day when our animal shelters no longer kill animals simply because the cats or dogs have no place to go.

But, is philosophy, dream and goal something we can claim or promise as reality now?

Not at all.

Nor, can we claim our ideals can occur in one year, two or ten.

There are too many obstacles. Too many mountains to yet climb. Too much groundwork to be dug.

I liked Ed Boks when he directed the NY AC&C. But, he was too long on ideals and too short on realism.

In between optimism and pessimism, there is reality and it is a very thin line -- often hard to discern.

More than Ed Boks, the greatest offenders in the "No Kill" promise in New York have been the ASPCA and Jane Hoffman of the (non) Mayor's Alliance for NYC Animals.

Even the name of the Alliance is deceptive as the Mayor of New York has nothing to do with animal rescue.

We in the animal cause need to make clear distinctions between personal goals and ideals and reality.

Americans were once told that we would be "greeted as liberators" in Iraq.

We discovered that the reality was quite different.

Its the same in animal work.

Its not nice to fool with truth and honest communications.

There is usually and ultimately a high price to pay for misrepresenations of truth. In Iraq, our soldiers and the Iraqi people pay the price. In animal shelters, the cats and dogs pay the price.

Wishes are not reality.

We need to put our noses to the grindstone, concentrate on all we have to do (especially in terms of targeted education), save those animals we can and shut our mouths about "no kill" claims anytime soon.

More work and less promise will eventually result in the goals becoming reality without our even noticing.

Anonymous said...

Winograd isn't always right. Research has shown that spay neuter is effective. Spayneuter education by itself is not effective. But, spay neuter AND spayneuter education combined are very effective. You just need to allocate your resources in the most cost effective manner. Get outside organizations to help with outreach and education costs. Get TV stations to donate air time for PSAs. Get printers to donate money for posters, fliers and mailers.

If Winograd could make LA noKill just by consulting with the City, he would have done it, for free, as a big feather in his cap. He hasn't done it and will not do it because he knows he will not be successful. It's no easy task to go NoKill in LA.

Anonymous said...

"Overly optimistic" or totally unrealistic? To say that the Department is taking "another big leap to NoKill" when the euthanasia rate didn't even go down is not just "overly optimistic" or even unrealistic, it's a flat out lie. Government agencies must be honest with the public.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth would anyone expect Winograd to work for free to get a "feather in his cap?" He can get "feathers" through paid consulting. If he brought the kill rate down so dramatically in Philly as claimed, why would he need an unpaid "feather?"

Boks would ignore any suggestions from Winograd anyway, just as did Stuckey.

So what's the point?

Anonymous said...

Why would Nathan want a feather in his hat?

Answer: Philadelphia shelter is a nonprofit organization, not a government agency. They don't have to show their numbers. He can say he reduced the kill rate to zero and there's no way to know the truth. I almost think that is why he shies away from public shelters.

So far Nathan has not made a shelter nokill, definitely not a large shelter like LA, NY or AZ. He's all talk right now. If he could make LA nokill, that would be a major accomplishment. He doesn't want to even try because he knows he'll fail. It'd be a black spot on his reputation. So he chooses smaller or private shelters to consult with.

There are for profit companies that will say do a makeover on TV for free to get publicity. Nathan could get that in LA if he could turn them around. That would be worth more than any consulting contract. Then he could say he succeeded where Boks failed. He'd love to be able to say that. Right now he knows he's basically all talk and hype.