Monday, April 26, 2010

Painting by Numbers part 3

I love baking. Gosh what's not to love? The house smells great and at the risk of tooting my own horn it just adds a delicious element to domestic bliss. With all the home made breads and muffins and cinnamon buns, no one is ever going to accuse me of being anorexic .... but then I haven't been beating down the door at weight watchers or sparkspeople either!
Mind you, baking does take more precision than most other cookery. Anyone who claims they can't bake generally is either unwilling or unable to measure properly or follow all the steps in the directions. For those in a hurry or intimidated by new tasks, baking definitely puts the F in the precise formula of a baking recipe.
Measuring is also a time tested way to gauge the success of any project. From political polls to horrific civilian death tolls in war torn regions, numbers are the single most effective way to wake people up.
The society understood that and made full public disclosure of its statistics an important first step on their New Path. They are under no legal obligation to do so, but they understood even the Unhappy Tails were needed to paint an accurate picture of the work needed to be done. After all, if everything was all sunshine and roses there would have been no need for a New Path because we would already be at No Kill Nova Scotia.
I have a lot of respect for this board because they were motivated by the numbers from their Unhappy Tails to build an actual Strategic Plan to effect real change. IMHO, it took a lot of balls just to stop sweeping things under the rug and admit there was a truckload of work to be done.
Unfortunately, while they are the official voice for the animals, the society is still unable to speak for them all. If you go to any of the municipal websites in this province, there are no publicly available statistics for animal control.
The only thing that comes a little bit close is in Annapolis County, where an official relationship has been forged with CAPS. While one cannot see stats on the AC page, all animals who come into CAPS care have begun their journey with Annapolis county AC and CAPS statistic are readily available upon request.
Not every part of this province has coverage by a rescue or a shelter, but every municipality in the province has animal control bylaws and some sort of arrangement to enforce them.... whether it be a contractor, actual AC staff, sheltering contracts or their own pound.
If there is any constant it is that there really is only one constant ... none of their statistics are publicly available. To make matters worse, it isn't simply a matter of utilizing the freedom of information option. In NS, that only applies to the actual government and not to their contractors.
For instance, we have no way of knowing if the two cute little dogs on the new Homeward Bound City Pound Adoptions facebook group are the only ones that have NOT been adopted this month, or what might have happened to the other ( bigger and not so cute ) faces from the found pet photos page of the HRM website. Were they claimed by their owners? Adopted? Deemed unadoptable? We'll never know unless someone takes the unprecedented step of presenting publicly available stats.
If I had no measuring cups, I would be hard pressed to make a decent cake or a good batch of cookies. If we do not have publicly available animal control statistics, there is absolutely no way to measure the scope of the homeless pet problem in this province.
How on earth can the majority of animal lovers be expected to be concerned if the numbers are veiled in mystery? Efforts to engage the public will continue to fall flat until there is a real sense of the scope of the situation.
What time is it? Its time to recognize that honest statistics are not about pointing fingers and assigning blame ... but rather that they are the only effective way to paint the real picture.
Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status. Laurence J. Peter

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