SF shelter director says SF at 80% live save rate

I talked to Carl Friedman, Director of San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control. I was asking for SF shelter data. He gave me numbers. As a matter of fact, he gave me ten years of numbers.

For fiscal 2005-2006:

The live release rate for cats was 83%!!
The live release rate for dogs was 73%
The live release rate for Cats and Dogs was 80%

Many people say that this save rate is not possible in LA, because LA is so much larger than SF.

Friedman’s response is that in any large city, there are many more people to adopt, rescue and foster than in San Francisco. He sees no reason why any major city should not have an 80% live save rate.

SF's live save rate for unweaned kittens is extremely high for those more than a few days old, compared to 23% in LA because of a well-developed foster program.

SF has an impound rate 17% less per thousand than LA, but they have a live save rate of 80% instead of 55%. LA kills 4.8 animals per thousand people, while San Francisco kills 2.1. I have been using SF numbers for four years as a goal for LA. Then I only had their number for 2003-2004. The current numbers are validation.

Yet, and get this, they have a budget of only $2.8 million and only 43 employees!! They also have 150 volunteers, or about 3-1/2 per employee.

Others have said LA demographics are not the same as SF. Yes, that's true, SF has a higher education and income level than LA, but their overall impound rate is only 17% lower than LA.

The key to success says Friedman is community involvement. This is exactly what Susanne Kogut from Charlottesville said as well as Tara Derby from Philadelphia.

Charlottesville, San Francisco and Philadelphia all have successful unweaned kitten and puppy programs. All three claim extremely low kill. Kogut says their kill for neonatals is almost non-existant. She did not quantify. Friedman says very few die in SF but did not quantify. Tara Derby from Philadelphia says the cats and kittens “fly out their door," and the neonatals have a very low death rate because of their foster program.

Here, in LA, my biggest gripe is that cats, especially kittens, get screwed big time, 77% are killed, most on their first day. LA has a long, long way to go before it is anywhere near San Francisco.


Anonymous said...

So you're basically saying that the problem is the volunteer department? The Department is not recruiting enough volunteers or fosters? Why doesn't the Department just do a huge recruiting effort. They could send out a press release and do a special volunteer recruiting event in LA. Of course if the Department continues to treat the volunteers poorly, retention could be an issue. They should at least give them the tshirts for free instead of making them pay for them. Maybe a private entity would be willing to buy the tshirts.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

That's correct, "very few people come into the animal shelters looking to adopt an old, ordinary dog or cat." The general public doesn't want to enter the doors of a death chamber. They don't feel good about bringing their children inside to choose a family pet when it's evident that the animals are suffering in these dungeons of death. The "shelters" don't even bother to give the animals a bath to make them feel better and look presentable. The most basic and obvious problems are not addressed.

Not everyone is looking for a male or female "model-type" pet. Lots of people are attracted to pets with personality rather than stunning good looks. Some intentionally are drawn to the old, sick or injured animals in need and animals that they know others (like "nay-sayer") just simply will not be interested in providing a home for. There are lots of good, "ordinary" PEOPLE that do not place high expectations on a pet or don't mind getting a "fixer upper." It's precisely these lower-income areas where some of these "ordinary" people live that will provide homes for these "ordinary" animals and be happy and satisfied to do so.

I'm sure San Francisco has it's share of "ordinary" dogs and cats. It's unrealistic to try to make a negative point of something that clearly does not pertain only to Los Angeles. Having a supply of ordinary animals is not exclusive to Los Angeles. I believe the "nay-sayer" viewpoint stems from a projection of one's own expectations.

I have rescued and placed these "ordinary" mixed-breed adult brown dogs in happy homes with "ordinary" people in low-income areas that were thrilled to have these dogs. The dogs have been allowed to live indoors in these "ordinary" houses with these "ordinary" people and are well loved. I have seen dogs such as these live out their lives in these "ordinary" homes. I have observed families gravitate with great enthusiasm towards what may appear to be the "ordinary" mixed-breed adult brown dog often enough. These "ordinary" people take PRIDE in their "ordinary" dogs and are very attached to them.

I have direct experience with this and no one can tell me this is not so. Know your audience.

Anonymous said...

God bless those who do take the old, crippled, and "unadopable" animals from the shelters. The problem is there are not enough of you for the supply.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to view the previous comment "The problem is there are not enough of you for the supply" as an attempt to identify a caveat, rather than view it as more defeatism only delivered in a nice way or as an attempt to undermine the "no-kill" movement. I will be wondering, however, why these individuals don't spend their time trying to form or contribute to solutions to the problems they perceive.

Stating that there are not enough of "us" for the supply does not make that a fact. If there ARE not enough of "us" then we need to convert or recruit more of a supply to meet the demand. (We can start with you. Are you available?)

Further, if we have to sit and wait for adopters to line up and come knocking on the door of an animal "shelter" that kills animals in the masses, then I would have to agree that the supply overwhelms the demand. However, there ARE homes for these animals. Killing animals has to be viewed as UNACCEPTABLE and not an option. An effort has to be made to FIND the homes and to make the "shelters" a place where the adopters can FIND the animals without being traumatized by the scent of death. There is a never ending supply of compassionate animal-loving people in the vicinity and beyond that want animals. Coupled with education and easily accessible and very visible low or no cost spay and neuter programs, an impact on the supply of animals should be achieved at some point. These particular animals, we'll say ordinary or special needs animals, like all the animals, should be marketed in the arenas that they are best suited for - the target market.

For example, elderly people do not need young, active puppies or kittens that they can't take care of. Yet, the senior citizens and the older animals both would benefit from companionship. Traveling truck drivers do not need active dogs on the road with them. They would enjoy a quiet, calm, faithful animal buddy to keep them company while on the road. Veterinary students and workers, nurses, and people with disabilities are particularly compassionate concerning animals with special needs. The medical professionals have good skills for caring for special needs animals. Etc., etc.

As Ed is saying, as a progressive animal loving community why don't we identify viable solutions and implement them rather than state a potential problem and then call it quits? The animals are depending on us. Success is being achieved elsewhere. With all the resources in Los Angeles we should be in a better position than most to be successful with saving our animals. Unless, of course, there is no desire to save them. With our vast financial resources and our progressive, innovative and compassionate reputation, L.A. should be serving as a model for other cities and LEADING the way rather than killing animals in the masses and using tired excuses to continue to do so.

I don't believe that "no-kill" can be accomplished in a system of on-going MASS killing. Many of the principals for achieving "no-kill" are not compatible with a death camp where the killing cycle is endless. Thus, the excuses can live on forever while the animals are being killed.

We can identify and address caveats 'til the end of time while the animals are being killed or we can respectfully insist on change. I am in favor of hiring "No Kill Solutions" as professional consultants with demonstrated, verifiable success, to evaluate our problem of the mass killing of our animals and to provide a comprehensive blueprint to resolve this moral deficit. When such a model exists, why would we not want it? Businesses have business plans in order to be successful. It is UNTHINKABLE to not have a business plan for a sizeable entity like LAAS and in order to be successful in the sizeable endeavor of saving our city's animals. Particularly when this service is available. LAAS desperately needs a proven and viable business plan to address our failure in caring for our animals.