• Susan Houser

Changes To Listing Criteria?

Dear Readers —

You may recall that I recently listed St. George, Utah, as a 90%+ shelter in the right sidebar. The listing was based on statistics for the St. George shelter for calendar year 2013 that were sent to me by Best Friends. A few days after I posted the listing I received an alert that referenced a recent article about the St. George shelter referring to problems in the past when the shelter was under previous management. I wasn’t too concerned about the article, because I thought the change in management must have happened before 2013 since the Best Friend’s statistics showed a 97% live release rate in 2013. I was curious about it, though, so I searched the author’s name to find the previous article.

Well, it turns out that new management did not take over until the summer of 2013, and the deficiencies described in the article under the old management included heartsticking, along with other serious and cruel practices. It sounds as though the St. George shelter was a nightmare for the first half of 2013, until new management took over and turned it around. Since my listing was for the entire year of 2013, I have deleted the listing.

I want to emphasize that St. George now has a new shelter manager and there is ample evidence that they have turned around and currently are saving over 90%. I cannot list them as a 90%+ shelter for 2013, though, because (a) I don’t trust the statistics for the first half of 2013 that were compiled under the old, bad management, and (b) the new management has not gone through a kitten season yet. I hope I’ll be able to re-list St. George next year based on their 2014 calendar-year statistics if their new management keeps up the good work.

I also want to emphasize that I think Best Friends provided me the statistics in good faith and that it was my failure to do adequate research that led to the listing being made in the first place. Lots of people provide me with statistics, and I appreciate that because sometimes it’s the only way I have of becoming aware of a good shelter. But it’s my responsibility to check out each situation thoroughly and I failed to do that with St. George.

This incident is as good a time as any to ask a question that I’ve been mulling over for a while. Should I restrict listings in the right sidebar to those shelters that have made their statistics available as public information, either by posting statistics online or by submitting them to a reputable database such as Maddie’s Fund or a state agency? I think that shelters are likely to be more careful and accurate with statistics that are made available to the general public than they are with statistics sent privately to a blogger. If I go the route of requiring a public listing of statistics, it will mean delisting quite a few communities who have been sending me their statistics privately. These are mostly small shelters whose websites do not allow for much flexibility.

What do you think? Should I get tougher with transparency requirements, or leave things as they are? You can leave a comment or e-mail me at the address listed on the “contact” page above.

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