Ed Boks relies on statistics from Merritt Clifton, publisher of Animal People, to prove he is doing a great job.
Marcia Mayeda should give Clifton a big fat kiss on the cheek because he makes even her abysmal statistics look good by making huge errors in his calculations based on not knowing many facts.
Merritt uses the (stupid) statistical marker of city shelter success the number of animals killed per 1,000 population, rather than Winograd’s much more reasonable and common sense measure of the kill and live save rate.
Nathan considers saving the lives of 90% of the animals impounded to approximate no-kill.
Using Merritt’s criteria, NYC, which kills as many animals as LA, is basically no kill because its population is more than double LA’s. Divide 17,000 killed in LA with a 4 million population, compared to 17,000 killed in NYC with a population of 9 million, gives NYC less than half LA's rate (2.0 vs 4.3). Follow?
Boks on the other hand, uses Merritt’s ranking of LAAS’ performance of 4.3 killed per thousand (about 17,000 thousand killed in 2007), which gives a performance about 3 times better than the national average of 12.5 animals killed per thousand human population.
Boks does not use the kill and live save numbers and rates to show how well he is doing because they show he is not doing well (43% kill rate vs. 16% in San Francisco for example).
The Merritt/Boks measure is ridiculous. For example, if LAAS impounded 17,000 animals in 2007 and KILLED all of them, LAAS would have a kill rate of 100%, and have Merritt's kill rate of 4.3 animals killed per 1,000, which is 3 times better than the national average.
That is, kill everything that moves and, and by Merritt's measure, you are still doing a fantastic job.
Clifton’s methods and measures are ridiculous. Boks uses them, because they work for him; Bickhart, Kramer, Blackman and the Mayor neither understand or care. They accept Boks’ "proof" and give him an award for being the “lowest no-kill city in the country” according to Villarraigosa, who is English challenged.
Clifton made even a bigger error when it comes to Mayeda’s County killing machine.
Merritt simplistically, and incorrectly, subtracted LA City and Long Beach’s population from LA County’s total population of 10,000,000, which would leave Mayeda's County shelter area having a population of 5.5 million.
With 43,000 animal killed, County would have a kill rate of 8.5/1,000, well below the national average of 12.5.
In fact, Clifton made a huge error based on incomplete information, and when this was pointed out to him, he refused to recalculate or revise his conclusions. Sue Freeman directly confronted Clifton, Boks and Bickhart about Clifton's mistakes, but no one cared.
She asked Ed and Jim to remove Clifton’s numbers from the LAAS website because they were so wrong.
Clifton's mistake was that he did not take into account that there were 5 other shelter systems in the County that served the entire County area; he didn't even bother to find out even after Sue pointed out his error.
The other 5 shelter systems (other than LA City) serving the larger County area:
Pasadena Humane Society:Total population: 483,413.
Santa Monica Animal Control: (91,439; 2007).
SEACCA: The total population covered by SEAACA is 763,922.
Burbank Animal Shelter: (108,029; 2007).
Inland Valley Humane Society: Total population covered by Inland Valley Humane Society is 384,289.
San Gabriel Humane Society: Total population 245,000
Clifton uses 5.5 million population for Mayeda’s County operational area, giving a kill rate of 8.5 per thousand, when in fact, her operation only covers a population of 3.7 million, which puts the actual County kill rate at 12.5 animals per 1,000, 50% higher than Merritt reported. How can anyone trust statistics that are off by 50%?
When Sue Freeman pointed out Clifton's errors, Boks and Bickhart refused to make any changes or acknowledge that Merritt made mistakes and was a loser. Merritt's chief claim to fame is that he is the editor of Animal People with a readership of 30,000.
Clifton makes this kind of error throughout all of his calculations about animal populations, whether pets in Baltimore's pounds, or dogs in Calcutta. He does not grasp the concept of city/county/regional boundaries and lumps them all together and extracts whatever conclusions he wants.
I emailed Clifton, questioning his methodology and numbers. I did not offer any alternative methods or opinions. I expected, like all scientists and statisticians, he’d defend his methods by providing numbers and the theories he operated under. Here is Merritt’s response:
"I have no interest in your opinions.
"They are not supported by a significant record of accomplishment.
"That's the bottom line. What I do works, & has worked in many situations, involving many different species, around the world."
Editor, ANIMAL PEOPLE
P.O. Box 960
Clinton, WA 98236
A friend of mine emailed me:
“What is it that Clifton does that works?”
My response was, “What he does is get a lot of people to accept his numbers because neither he nor they have any idea of what he is talking about.”
I have challenged Clifton again on his methodology. When I get a response, I’ll post it. Don't hold your breath for a rational response.
In the meantime, just know that nothing that comes out of Merritt’s or Boks’ mouths has any credibility whatsoever.
Oh, added info. Merritt did respond in the comments below.