Some of you may have seen news stories reporting an argument made by Town Lake Animal Center's management team that there has been a huge increase in animals surrendered to the shelter by their owners since the Austin City Council passed the historic No Kill resolution on March 12, 2010. It is appropriate for the shelter to let people know that the shelter is not yet No Kill and won't be until after all of the Council's No Kill reforms have been enacted. But it is not appropriate for the shelter to grossly overstate their case for a dramatic increase in owner surrenders, as the shelter is doing.
Here's the case being made by TLAC in the news: because owner surrenders over the 26 days following the No Kill resolution are up 46 over the same period last year, the resolution is causing an increase in owner surrenders. First of all, let's just say that any mathematician would giggle at the idea that because one thing happened after the other that the second was caused by the first. Mathematicians would also giggle at the idea that one could prove causation by statistics; to the contrary, one can only prove correlation by statistics.
But regardless, a plain look at the historical data demonstrates that TLAC is grossly overstating its case for the assertion that the No Kill resolution is causing an increase in owner surrenders. Why? Because the number of animals surrendered to the shelter by their owners was already increasing this year over last year before the No Kill resolution was passed. As a result, one cannot conclude that the resolution caused the increase because there was an increase both before and after the resolution was passed.
Please note that this is not to say that Austin going No Kill will not increase owner surrenders. That may happen when people think the shelter is a safe place. And given that intake is considerably higher in Summer months, we should anticipate a greater increase in owner surrenders this year over last year if the trend is already demonstrating an increase in owner surrenders. In any event, we make this point only to demonstrate that TLAC is grossly overstating its case now. The data simply does not prove what they claim.
Here's the data:
Change in Per-Month Owner-Surrenders from Last Year to this Year:
26-day Period After 3/12 Referendum (reported by KXAN): +46
March 2010: Not Yet Reported by TLAC
February 2010: Not Yet Reported by TLAC
January 2010: +37
December 2009: +29
November 2009: +36
October 2009: +31
The FixAustin.org Team