More Irresponsible Number-Wrangling from Long Beach Animal Care Services, Mayor Garcia and The City of Long Beach
Today we're reporting on more irresponsible number-wrangling from Long Beach Animal Care Services, Mayor Garcia and the City.
In a press release sent out yesterday, LBACS and the City, with Mayor Garcia’s full endorsement, are once again attempting to mislead the public about progress at the Long Beach animal shelter by significantly inflating LBACS’ live release rate. Using bogus methods for reporting live releases and partial mid-year numbers that inaccurately represent LBACS’ yearly performance, the press release trumpets a live release rate of 95% for dogs in the first six months of 2017, up from 89% in 2016, as well as overstated numbers for live releases for cats.
This is a clear example of what is known in animal advocacy as “shelter math.” It's what we've come to recognize in this day and age as "fake news." Bottom line -- It’s what bad shelters do when they want to keep their killing out of the public’s view.
When reputable shelters report live release rates, they do so for the entire year, not just for part of the year, as Long Beach routinely does. Why do Long Beach bureaucrats (read: Mayor Garcia, City Manager and LBACS Manager) do this? To maintain the myth that has endured for more than a decade in Long Beach: the incorrect belief that LBACS is a no kill shelter (it’s not) and is doing much better than it really is. In this way, the City hopes to deflect public criticism of the needless killing that goes on in our city shelter.
Here are some facts you need to know in order to evaluate the bogus numbers recently put out by the City:
*** LBACS has never in its history had an actual live release rate of 89% for dogs. In 2016, the year-end live release (save) rate was 85% - that is a full 4 percentage points lower than the number cited in the press release. The year-end rate is the only accurate method for reporting live release rates – mid-year press releases distort the true numbers and are used by the City as a smokescreen to inflate the numbers and deceive the public. With Mayor Garcia running for re-election and scurrying to curry favor with the animal-loving community to win its vote, it’s no surprise to see the renewed zeal with which LBACS is reporting the numbers this week.
*** The inflated and grossly inaccurate figure of 95% for 2017 the City reports completely leaves out the high-kill months of July-November, which are the worst months of the year for dogs at LBACS. When those months are finally factored in at the end of this year, it is highly likely that LBACS’ actual save rate for dogs will be significantly lower.
*** The City’s claim of a 76% save rate for cats is as misleading as it is heartbreaking: we are in the middle of kitten season, the deadliest season for kittens at LBACS. LBACS has killed over 250 kittens so far this year, and with several months of kitten season remaining, that number will only increase. It is impossible for the City or anyone else to accurately say at this point what LBACS’ save rate for cats and kittens will be by the end of this year, but we do know the numbers from last year – more than 800 kittens and 400 cats were killed in 2016. In other words, the killing season at LBACS has only just begun, and calling out live release rates at this point of the year is both irresponsible and inaccurate.
*** The double-digit decreases in euthanasias that the City cites are not only inaccurate; they're also dishonest because they intentionally utilize a method for reporting decreases that is not the industry standard and is clearly utilized to deceive the public. Stayin’ Alive has written a report detailing the inaccuracies in these reports of progress, which you can read here: https://goo.gl/sDgNZP
All that said, consider this: If the City can get you to remember these inflated and grossly inaccurate figures, they have a chance at making you forget about the more than 1660 animals they killed in our shelter last year, many of whom could have been saved.
Note that the only numbers these press releases ever mention are numbers of impounded animals and euthanized animals – the number of adoptions, fosters or other outcomes are never mentioned. So here are the numbers the City and Mayor Garcia DON’T want you to see:
***Let’s start with 285. That’s the number of adoptions LBACS has done so far this year. In the first six months of 2017, LBACS adopted out only 285 cats, dogs, kittens and puppies. These numbers are extremely low when one considers that Sacramento adopted out nearly 10 times that number of animals in the same time frame. From January to June of this year, Sacramento has adopted out 863 cats and kittens and 1411 dogs and puppies for a total of 2274 adoptions. Sacramento continues to literally run circles around Long Beach in terms of adoptions. Mayor Garcia knows about Sacramento and got elected by promising to increase adoptions, and yet he has done almost literally nothing to increase the number of adoptions done by LBACS since he was elected. (Two Kitty Halls do not an adoption program make).
***Next is the number 3 (yes, THREE). That’s the number of animals that have gone into foster homes in the past six months at LBACS. Sacramento routinely has 200+ animals in foster homes during any given month. Foster programs are a key part of shelter lifesaving. The fact that LBACS still does not have a robust foster program is beyond outrageous, given the fact that LBACS boasts a huge animal-loving community that would no doubt be willing to foster animals for a City-run program.
*** The next number is 36. That’s the heartbreakingly-low number of kittens that have been adopted out by LBACS since January. During the same period, LBACS killed over 250 kittens, and the number is rising. If LBACS had a proper foster program, the majority of those lives could be saved, but LBACS continues to resist taking responsibility for having its own foster program, preferring instead to foist the task off on overworked, under-resourced rescues who don’t have the reach and influence that a city shelter has and are left to flail under the weight of doing the job that the animal shelter in the 7th largest city in the 6th largest economy in the world should be doing.
As we have noted elsewhere, if Long Beach had a strong adoption and foster program, a medical and behavioral rehabilitation program, and other progressive programs, we would be No Kill by now. If LBACS did just seven more adoptions per day, we’d be saving more than 90 percent of our shelter animals. However, because of a lack of any genuine interest in saving lives and because of a lack of action on the part of Mayor Garcia and City Council, Long Beach will slowly weave and stumble toward a save rate that could have been achieved years ago. And more animals will die.
Since Mayor Garcia was elected, more than 6,000 dogs, cats, kittens and puppies have been killed at LBACS. Since City Manager Pat West was hired and then retained in his position by Garcia, more than 46,000 of our beloved companion animals have been killed at LBACS – 46,000 animals. That’s enough to fill a small city.
Yet the City and our elected officials continue to deny, deflect and evade responsibility for their lack of caring and lack of action.
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