Formulas don’t lie. Or do they?

Every budget cycle, animal control directors are faced with the task of justifying the number of personnel needed to run their operations.  I was reading one such justification recently in which the director was making the case for a new animal shelter and the necessary staff to run the shelter.

The “go to place” to find formulas that will over estimate your needs is the resource center for the National Animal Control Association.  Don’t get me wrong, the Association is a wonderful organization but their formulas are grossly out dated by twenty years.  The calculations that were created for shelter staff  are wrong because we as a society have evolved into better pet owners.

In the document that I was reading, that was presented three years ago, the paper predicted that the shelter would have an intake of 25,000 animals, based on the city’s current population.  But based on the current statistics, the actual intake was 5,000 animals.  We are seeing a decline in our intakes because more and more people are spaying or neutering their pets.

The only pet demographic that is giving us trouble is that of pitbull owners.  By far, the owners of pitbull dogs are less likely to spay or neuter their dog.  For that reason, the pitbull breed is taking up over 50% or our kennel space in animal shelters.   The good news is that with declining intakes, animal shelters have more kennel space, which are needed because pitbulls require more time to get them adopted, if at all.

Anytime some one is using a “national statistical formula” to justify increasing their budget, you should ask yourself if the numbers are real.  In order to determine that, you have to observe the shelter’s activities over time and see what influences the intake numbers.  One method to increase your intake numbers is to announce that you have become no-kill and your intakes will increase with surrenders from your jurisdiction and all of the surrounding jurisdicitons.