Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Los Angeles California Wildlife Rehabilitation Real Estate

Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Los Angeles California Wildlife Rehabilitation Real Estate

Monday, February 14, 2011

Brenda Barnette first six months by the numbers, Los Angeles Animal Services

Some have been singing Brenda Barnette's praises since she arrived. Some are saying things are much better. I thought I'd take a look at the numbers to see what's really happening at Los Angeles Animal Services.

Animals given to New Hope partners has increased. Things seem to have gotten worse in all the other categories. Most seems to be due to the increase in animals being dumped at the shelter. Most of this is due to kittens. I'm only looking at cats and dogs combined. I'm comparing Barnette's first six months (August through the end of January) to the same six months the previous year.

Adoptions are down by 986 animals (-8%), 11,799 verses 12,785.

Animals given to New Hope partners (non-profit animal rescue groups that work with the City) is up a whopping 1,162 (+40%), 4,080 verses 2,918. This is a great improvement, kudos. Unfortunately it's the only improvement based on the numbers.

Animals returned to owners is up 129 (+5%), 2,842 verses 2,743. This is due to the increase in intake. As a percentage of intake 10.54% of animals were returned to their owners in the last six months compared to 10.88% compared to last six months from previous year. The difference is actually negligible.

Animals released has increased by 166 (+35%), 633 verses 467. I've never really understood this category but I still count it as an animal released alive.

Animals that died on their own is down 23 (-6%), 368 verses 375. As a percentage of intake it's the same at 1.3% verses 1.4% year previous.

Animals that were dead on arrival (DOA) at intake increased by 62 (+8%), 827 verses 765. As a percentage of intake it's the same at 3% verses 3%.

Animals that escaped is up by 26 (+92%), 54 verses 28. The numbers involved are negligible but still something to look at.

Animals that were euthanized is up 1,189 (+13%), 10,204 verses 9,015. As a percentage of intake it's 37% verses 36% year previous. Not that much of a difference especially when you consider the increase in intake and fewer adoptions to the public.

Animals leaving the shelter alive is up 476 (+2.5%), 19,408 verses 18,941. As a percentage of intake it is actually down, 72% verses 75%. Barnette's goal is to have 85% of the animals leaving alive within the next five years. If our economy improves and we can do something about all the kittens, I see that happening.

Animals leaving the shelter dead is up 1,244 or (+12%), 11,399 verses 10,155. As a percentage of intake it's 42% verses 40% previous year. As a percentage fewer animals leaving alive, more leaving dead. (Animals leaving dead as % + animals leaving alive as % do not = 100% animals taken in during that time period. It seems more animals left the shelter dead and alive than were taken in. This could be because of the timing of baby season. This also means they are keeping higher numbers in the shelter.)

Animals that were brought into the shelters is up by 1,758 (+7%), 26,956 verses 25,198. This is the real problem. In the past five years animal intake is up 9,545 (+20%), 55,780 verses 46,235 (annual intake last 12 months). Intake had been going down for years until the recession hit. It's been going up ever since. Adoptions were increasing until 2009 when we seem to have hit a wall.

Now to look at an always troubling category, kittens. Neonate kitten intake is up 662 (+22%) over the six months year prior. Kitten intake accounted for 38% of the increase in total cat/dog intake. Neonate kitten euth is caused by people not spaying and neutering their own cats or unowned feral cats. People lie when they dump the kittens saying they are strays so they don't have to pay a fee. You can't really tell where they are coming from.

Kitten euth is up 910 (+47%) over the six months year prior. Almost all (+76%) of the increase in total cat/dog euthanasia is attributed to kitten euth, 910 kittens euth'd verses 1,189 total cats/dogs euth'd.

One problem with neonate kittens is that they legally cannot be adopted out until they are eight weeks old. If they are under eight weeks old, they must be adopted out with a mom cat and all the other siblings or through the foster bottle baby program. Because there are so many kittens eight weeks and older, people would rather not adopt an entire family (very expensive) or bottle feed a baby (time consuming). If you can't feed the neonate kitten or adopt it out, you are forced to euth it which is better than letting it starve to death.

I volunteered at the shelter for many years. We'd call five week old kittens eight weeks if they could eat wet food. We'd put solo nursing babies in with a mom cat with other babies. I'm sure the shelter is doing this already.

I believe some of the increase in adult cat/dog intake and euth is caused by our horrible economy i.e., job losses, foreclosures, people being forced to move from homes into smaller rentals that don't allow pets, people doubling up in homes and people who can't afford to spay or neuter their pets. Obviously Barnette did not cause our horrible economy. Still, it's a challenge she must face.

I think she's done a great job increasing New Hope adoptions. I don't know if she recruited more New Hope partners or just found a way to get them to take more animals. Whatever the cause, whoever deserves credit, kudos. Kudos to the actual New Hope partners as well. That's the only real improvement by the numbers. Without that improvement, things would be much worse.

Adoptions to the public are down but I'd venture to say it's because of the economy. One way to increase adoptions is to find a new source of adopters. Go after people who generally buy cats and dogs from pet stores or breeders.

The biggest problem in the shelter right now is kittens. The only way to deal with it is more spay and neuter targeted toward cats, owned and unowned. It should be cheap or free and targeted to lower income areas. Maybe a little enforcement of the mandatory spay and neuter law would help. All of these suggestions are easier said than done.

For the record I am not saying that Barnette caused the problems in the shelter today. These are just challenges she will have to conquer.

A closing note, if you see a pregnant cat or dog, get it spayed. If your friend has a pregnant cat or dog, tell them to get it spayed. Otherwise those babies will most likely end up in the shelter, dead. You can spay, neuter cats and puppies at eight weeks of age. It's easier on them and cheaper for you. They do not need to go into heat or have a litter before being spayed or neutered. Don't forget about bunnies!

Here are some fantastic charts by Sheltertrak.

Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.

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