The Power of Accurate Numbers

Recently, one of the major organizations started asking shelters to include owner request euthanasia’s to be counted in shelter intake numbers. Their argument is that some shelters ask individuals to sign an owner-request form when intaking an animal over 10 years old. Though this is true it hardly happens as much as actual owner-request euthanasia’s. And therefore will skew intake numbers and provide yet another hic-cup in the shelter statistics debate.

Many organizations follow the Asilomar Accords model which also asks you to include owner-request euthanasia’s in intake numbers but then has the organization subtract them from the total. Technically owner-request euthanasia’s are an ‘outpatient’ procedure. The animals are not being surrendered to the organization, the animals owners are hiring the organization to perform a service….just like a shelters cremation service and it’s spay/neuter services.
As we all know (and lament) there is not one depository for shelter statistics. Though all the national organizations and any grant funder requires and has statistics from shelters across the nation…these are not being shared, centralized or analyzed to help the industry as a whole.

Colorado is one of the only states that mandates that any facility that boards animals reports their numbers to a centralized agency. Because of this I can tell you that in Colorado 170,000 animals entered the animal welfare system in 2016; that’s 33 animals per 1,000 people.

I can also tell you that we euthanized 10% of dogs and 24% of cats that entered the system and therefore throughout the state of Colorado we have a LRR of 83%. I can show you that we’re RTO’ing 24% of dogs and 6% of cats, adopting 50% of each and boarding 10,000 dogs every day.

Of the 103,298 dogs and 66,826 cats that entered Colorado’s Animal Welfare system in 2016:
You see numbers are useful. They give us the ability to see where we are and how much farther we have to go. They also provide us with tools to educate the public on the status of overpopulation and the need for basic animal welfare within communities.

So why is it that shelters are asked to count owner-request euthanasia’s as intakes but not animals dropped off for spay/neuter surgery? Technically they’re apples to apples – two procedures the organization offers to the public….neither of which is giving the shelter ownership of the animal and therefore neither of which should be counted in intake numbers (even if they’re subtracted out at the end).

As Animal Sheltering continues to grow into a well-run, professional industry more and more eyes will be on the profession. Therefore it is up to all of us to show with accuracy exactly what we’re dealing with and not try to overinflate the problem.

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