What Statistics and Definitions Can Do For You Editorial

2004 by Richard Avanzino

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Statistics may be a ho hum topic to some, but, in my opinion, tracking numbers is key to the success of any animal welfare organization. Statistics are navigation devices - they tell you where you are, where you've been and what you need to do to get to where you want to go.

The most important statistics for any animal shelter to track are: the number of animals coming in, the number of animals adopted, the number of animals transferred or returned to owner and the number of animals euthanized. These numbers tell you how well you're fulfilling your lifesaving mission.

Within the euthanized category, it's important to define the animal's condition. Was he healthy/adoptable? Treatable? Non-rehabilitatable? This is essential for several reasons.

Definitions help guide organizational resource allocation. Animals in different categories have different needs and require different resources (e.g., marketing for healthy animals as opposed to medical care for sick and injured treatable animals).

Definitions enable an organization to establish measurable, quantifiable goals. For example, it's hard to set the goal of saving all healthy/adoptable animals without defining healthy/adoptable.

Statistics and definitions give an organization an objective standard for measuring results. They provide the tools to determine how well your organization is doing compared to others or compared to your own accomplishments last year. As statistics and definitions are published, they provide the organizational transparency and measuring stick the public is looking for.

In sum: statistics and definitions help create organizational efficiencies, define organizational goals and priorities, save lives, enhance image and build public support. It doesn't get any better than that.

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