There are only three kinds of lies:
Lies, Damnable Lies, and Statistics.
The following is the complete text of the analysis by Elizabth Forel of the statitics published by the CACC and the City's Department of Health.
THE COALITION for NEW YORK CITY ANIMALS, Inc.
A Coaliton of Animal Protecton Organizations & Concerned Citizens
Directors: Elizabeth Forel, Jane E. Hanley, Marlene Kess
P.O. Box 20247, Park West Station, New York, N.Y. 10025, (212) 865-0561
March 10, 1997
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
Deputy Mayor Randy Mastro
Council Member Kathryn Freed
RE: THE MISUSE OF STATISTICS
AT THE CENTER FOR ANIMAL CARE AND CONTROL
"If you torture numbers long enough you can get them to confess to almost anything." This is a quote attributed to a U.S.congressman in his criticism of the tobacco industry's manipulated use of statistics to sway public opinion. The same criticism can be directed against the Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC) and the NYC Department of Health (DoH) in their highhanded, creative and bogus use of statistics concerning homeless animals in New York City. Continued misrepresentation of these numbers, which appear to be intended to mislead the public, will only further the damage already done to the CACC, the DoH and the City of New York.
While statistics are often used by humane societies and animal control agencies, they are not well understood. Numbers in print look important. And if they are in print-- people often assume they must be accurate. To correctly evaluate statistics, it is important to know their source, and how, why and by whom they were tabulated. In the case of the CACC, the statistics are derived from incomplete, pencil written cards. The information is not computerized. But even if it were, computerized reports are only as good as the data entered and the intelligence, conscientiousness and integrity of the operator. The CACC numbers are not audited -- that is to say -- they are neither examined, nor verified by an independent, non partial source. In short, they are not believable.
This report will show how the CACC's own published statistics have been manipulated to make it appear that they are doing a far better job than is actually the case. This report will also give eye witness testimony to support the charge that these numbers may have been falsified. When the statistics are used correctly (i.e. adoptions and euthanasia based on intake) the result is not good. However, we believe the numbers are actually even worse than the report shows. Only an independent professional audit will ever get to the truth.
It is of utmost importance to accurately track animal statistics. It provides accountability to a public whose taxes support animal control. As Edward S. Duvin stated in his landmark article "In the Name of Mercy" an excellent analysis of the shelter industry, published in 1990, "... accurate measurement is an indispensable element in developing, evaluating and refining effective policies. How can we properly analyze where we have been, where we are at, where we are going, and how we're going to get there without reliable measurement?"
The misuse of statistics creates a scenario that is both harmful and dishonest and will eventually be exposed. Contrived high adoption numbers give a false sense of security to someone surrendering a cat or dog to the CACC. They may believe the animal has a good chance of being adopted. Likewise, spreading exaggerations about low euthanasia rates will have a similar effect.
The numbers referenced below refer to the five CACC facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island. They are taken from the CACC monthly reports entitled "MONTHLY ANIMAL ACTIVITY REPORT - ALL SHELTERS AND PET RECEIVING CENTERS."
- The numbers are looked at in two ways - one referring to Dogs and Cats only; the other referring to Dogs, Cats & Misc. Miscellaneous (misc.) includes anything from lizards, turtles, gerbils and rabbits to roosters, pigs and ferrets.
- Received is from the line "TOTAL ANIMALS RECEIVED." It does not include "On hand first of month."
- CACC adoptions is from the line "CACC ADOPTIONS."
- Adoptions is from the line "TOTAL ALL ADOPTIONS" and includes CACC, North Shore, ASPCA, other shelters and rescuers.
- Euthanasia is from the line "TOTAL EUTHANIZED". It is more accurate to use the total number rather then from the categories "ADOPTABLE" vs. "NON-REHABILITATABLE." These categories are based on non-standardized criteria and are subjective-- (and from one who has a wonderful, affectionate and healthy "Status 3, non-rehabilitatable" cat, I have living proof that these categories are highly questionable.)
1995 (12 months)
- Number of cats and dogs received - 49,181.
- 9,536 or 19.4% were adopted.
- 38,548 or 78.4% of the cats and dogs were euthanized.
- Number of animals received - 54,835.
- 9,616 or 17.5% were adopted.
- 40,421 or 73.7% of the animals were euthanized.
COMPARISON OF STATISTICS REGARDING CATS AND DOGS
first 10 months of 1995 to 1996
- Number of cats and dogs received - 47,791.
- 9,420 or 19.7% were adopted (Only 5,896 or 12.3% were adoptions made from the CACC, the remainder were to the ASPCA, North Shore, other shelters and rescue groups.)
- 36,351 or 76% of the cats and dogs were euthanized.
- Number of cats and dogs received - 41,385.
- 7,701 or 18.6% were adopted (3,686 or 8.9% were from the CACC.)
- 32,955 or 79.6% of the cats and dogs were euthanized.
- The CACC received 6,406 more cats and dogs in the first ten months of 1996 or an increase of 15.5%
- When comparing pure adoption numbers, the increase in 1996 was 1,719, however, it is not accurate to say that the increase was 22%. This is a good example of how numbers are manipulated since that analysis is not based onadoptions to intake. A more accurate statement is that adoptions increased by only 1.1%, while CACC adoptions increased by 3.4%.
- Euthanasia based on animals received decreased by 3.6% for cats and dogs only, but euthanasia actually inueased by 3,396 or 10.3% in 1996.
first 10 months of 1995 to 1996
- Number of animals received - 53,642
- 9,473 or 17.7% were adopted (Only 5,936 or 1 1.1% were adoptions made from the CACC, the rest were to theASPCA, North Shore, other shelters and rescue groups.)
- 38,525 or 71.8% of the animals were euthanized.
- Number of animals received - 46,276.
- 7,779 or 16.8% were adopted (Only 3,743 or 8% were adoptions made from the CACC, the rest were to theASPCA, North Shore, other shelters and rescue groups.)
- 34,623 or 74.8% of the animals were euthanized.
- The CACC received 7,366 more animals in the first ten months of 1996 or an increase of 1 5.9%.
- Overall adoptions increased by only .9%; CACC adoptions increased by 3.1%.
- Euthanasia based on intake decreased by 3%, but euthanasia actually increased by 3,902 or 11.3% in 1996.
ASPCA statistics are from an ASPCA report titled "ASPCA ANIMAL CONTROL SERVICES STATISTICAL SUMMARY- DOGS AND CATS"
1994 - ASPCA
- number of cats and dogs received - 50,443.
- 8,892 or 17.6% were adopted (The ASPCA did not have an outlet such as the CACC has with the ASPCA)
- 38,671 or 76.6% of the cats and dogs were euthanized
- number of cats and dogs received - 49,181.
- 9,536 or 19.4% were adopted (4,644 or 9.4% were CACC adoptions; the remainder went to the ASPCA, NorthShore and other shelters and rescue groups)
- 38,548 or 78.4% of the cats and dogs were euthanized
- When compared to the ASPCA statistics of 1994, the last full year the ASPCA had the animal control contract, intake of cats and dogs at the CACC decreased by 1,262 or 2.5%. Overall 1995 CACC adoptions increased by only 1.8%. However, when adoptions made from the CACC only (not including North Shore, ASPCA or other rescuers and shelters) are compared, they actually decreased by 8.2%.
- ·Euthanasia increased by 1.8% although the number of cats and dogs euthanized was almost the same.
- In a piece written for Animal Issues - Summer, 1996, a publication of The Coalition for New York City Animals, Inc., the former CACC Manhattan shelter director, Scotlund Haisley, stated that the Manhattan shelter did from 5-10 adoptions daily with the higher number occurring on the weekend. That would equal approximately 45 adoptions per week. The 1996 CACC stats indicate that 2,977 cats and dogs were adopted from the Manhattan shelter in the first 10 months. This works out to approximately 10 per day or an average of 70 per week which is considerably more than the number Haisley cited.
- Former rescuers and volunteers have stated that there was little if any activity at the Manhattan shelter during the week and not that much more on weekends. Most of the traffic on weekends was from people surrendering animals. On a Saturday last Fall, for two hours I observed well over 30 people surrendering animals, but only 1-2 adoptions.
- Former rescuers and volunteers have also stated that the cat ward (and sometimes the dog ward) was cleared out practically every day; one would not see the same animal twice; many of the cats were scheduled for euthanasia after one day in adoptions to make room for new animals.
- If the CACC was doing so well with adoptions, why did they allow rescuers such as Ellen Schneider and Eva Stacy to take out only purebred cats and kittens or Sandy Ridner to take out only purebred dogs. Was it because even the more adoptable purebreds did not have a good chance of adoption through the CACC -- and former caring employees knew it and contacted rescue groups? Many rescuers were allowed to go into the adoption wards and pick out any animals they wanted for adoption.
- New Yorkers for Companion Animals, Inc.'s records show that they took out 27 animals 20 cats and 7 dogs from theManhattan shelter in September,1996. They were one of many rescue groups that took animals from the shelter that month and are apparently no longer welcome. The CACC's stats for all shelters for September 1996 indicate in the "Other" category under "Special Adoption" - 19 animals - 8 dogs and 11 cats.
In a letter to the public signed by Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of Health, and dated 12/9/96, a statement is made claiming that the CACC reduced euthanasia by 4% as compared to the ASPCA in its last full year under contract with the City. This is inaccurate as can be seen by the information provided above, based on the CACC and ASPCA reports. A statement was also made that adoptions were up 10% as compared to the ASPCA in its last full year under contract with the City. In a letter signed by Marty Kurtz and published in the Vol. 16 #6 issue of Animal's Agenda, he claims that CACCadoptions are up by (a whopping) 42% when compared to the ASPCA. The Deputy Mayor's office also made a recent statement that adoptions are up this year by 46+% when compared to last year- and that they do not include North Shore orASPCA adoptions. Again, the numbers above prove this to be incorrect. One wonders on what basis these statements were made.
CACC cat and dog adoptions for the first 10 months of 1995 were 3,686 or 8.9% of animals received; for the same period of 1996, the CACC adoptions were 5,896 or 12.3% of animals received. This represents an increase of only 3.4%. While the number actually inueased by 2,210, the number of animals received at the shelters also increased proportionately. When the 1995 CACC figures are compared to 1994 ASPCA, the increase was only 1.8%
CLAIMS MADE BY THE CACC AND THE DoH
Another statement was made by Dr. Hamburg, both in the letter sent to the public and on a Channel 9 UPN report, claiming that the CACC has one of the lowest euthanasia rates of any large shelter system in the country. Unfortunately, this is just the type of manipulated information that does the most harm. This claim was also made by Marty Kurtz in the Animal's Agenda and in the CACC's most recent fund raising letter.
What neither source reveals is that this statement is based on per capita which is not the way to assess euthanasia statistics. In a city of over 7 million people, with a low cat/dog ratio, this is meaningless. Based on cat and dog intake, the euthanasia rate is actually 78.3% of cats and dogs for 1995 -- which is among the highest in the country. According to the most recent statistics released by the National Pet Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, the results of their 1994 National Shelter Census reveals that 63.95% was the average euthanasia rate and 24% the average adoption rate for cats and dogs. NYC does not fare well when compared against this information. However, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) states that these statistics cannot be extrapolated to estimate total numbers of animals entering shelters in the U.S. or the number of animals euthanized. This is the best record of national shelter information to date -- however, it is recognized to be a flawed system because of differences in compiling statistics.
NYC has only two main shelters. If this city was serviced adequately, a far greater number of animals would be coming into the shelters. NYC spends approximately 70 cents per capita on animal control which is far below the national average of $1.18. The HSUS recommends from $3 to $5 dollars per capita.
There are over 100 animal rescue groups in NYC, not including individuals who pick up strays. In a survey which I did for United Action for Animals, Inc. in 1994, analyzing activity by private, grass roots animal rescue groups in NYC, 42% of these groups answered the survey. It was revealed that they had rescued over 12,000 cats and dogs in 1993. Since that time, several of the groups have grown considerably and many more rescue groups have come into existence.
In her position as Vice President of National Shelter Outreach for the ASPCA, Julie Morris has traveled around the country visiting shelters in many cities. From this experience she believes that New York City may well have more grass roots animal rescue and adoption groups than other cities.
Promoting untrue propaganda is doing a great disservice to the animals and it erodes any confidence the public may have had in the CACC or the City. Untruths and exaggerations will eventually be challenged and exposed.
Finally, the success of any shelter or animal control agency should not be judged on numbers alone. More attention must be given to creating an honest, open shelter system with high moral among caring workers and a humane and disease free environment for the animals. There must also be accountability to the public and an emphasis on life affirming programs.
Very truly yours,
/s/ Elizabeth Forel
cc: Ashley Hubka - City Council Office of Oversight & Investigation;
Friends of Animals;
Shelter Reform Action Committee;
Alan Hevesi, NYC Comptroller