February 17th, 2010 WW Editorial Staff | Letters to the Editor
 

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Shelter Shock


[“The Crusaders,” WW, Feb. 3, 2010] contained a factual error that seriously distorts the profile of “crusader” [Gail] O’Connell-Babcock and the performance of Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS). In that profile, reporter Beth Slovic stated that “Records on the agency’s website show the shelter kills fewer animals per capita than most comparable cities.” That statement is not true.

The critical numbers appear in the separate “Asilomar Statistics 2008” for MCAS and the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland, a group including the shelters operated by Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah counties, the Oregon Humane Society, the Southwest Washington Humane Society, and Sherwood’s Cat Adoption Team. When MCAS’s numbers are isolated from those of the group, one learns that the remaining members of the Alliance euthanize only 20 percent of all dogs not redeemed by their owners and find new homes for nearly 78 percent. In contrast, MCAS itself euthanizes 42 percent of its unredeemed dogs and adopts only 34 percent. The numbers for unredeemed cats are even worse. While the others in the Alliance manage to find new homes for 60 percent and euthanize 31 percent, MCAS kills 62 percent of its cats and adopts only 19 percent.

There really is no doubt. Multnomah County’s own statistics demonstrate that (a) MCAS’s “kill rates” are twice those of its neighbors and (b) MCAS’s adoption programs are less than half as successful. MCAS has hidden its own dismal performance behind that of the region for many years. Ms. Slovic’s presumably inadvertent misstatement furthers this fraud and should be corrected.
Robert E. Babcock
Lake Oswego

Beth Slovic Responds: The Babcocks’ passion for their cause was the subject of my original story, which Gail O’Connell-Babcock initially said treated “the subject of animal advocacy, the bottom-of-the-heap advocacy issue, with respect.” I regret that the sentence in question was clumsy, but I was trying to illustrate the animal shelter’s point of view. It would have been better if it said, “The latest records on the agency’s website show Portland and Multnomah County kill fewer animals per capita than most comparable communities.” Mr. Babcock’s further point—that this community-wide statistic doesn’t adequately illuminate the Multnomah County Animal Shelter’s individual performance—is well taken.

CORRECTION: In last week’s Dr. Know, a sentence added during the editing process regarding the intended use of the I-5 bridge was erroneously attributed to Carley Francis, spokeswoman for the Columbia River Crossing, and Dr. Know himself. WW regrets the error.

 
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