Getting Past Asilomar
A blog post at No Kill Nation recently explored some real and serious issues with the way many animal shelters calculate their Live Release Rates (LRR) and rightly pointed out that the formula considered by many to be the defacto standard allows animal shelters to eliminate thousands of deaths from their calculations, by not counting all animals "euthanized at owner request" or even animals that died, or that were lost or stolen at the shelter.
Why a shelter would want to eliminate these deaths from their reporting is obvious: doing so makes them look like they are doing better than they are. But, a growing number of shelters are moving past the Asilomar Accords and are computing their LRR as the number of live outcomes as a percentage of all outcomes, which, if you think about it, is the only rational way to compute the LRR.
When shelters compute their LRR as a percentage of the total outcomes, rather than the percentage of an arbitrary subset of outcomes, the LRR gets smaller. As a result, shelters that operate more transparently and that compute the LRR correctly, can end up getting punished for doing so, because often No Kill advocates don't understand the not-so-subtle differences in how shelters create the "success rate" they report.
To make up for this, a growing number of animal shelters are beginning to report two different sets of outcome statistics. They report the "Raw or Total LRR" and the "Asilomar LRR". And, while doing so must certainly generate some questions in people's heads, like "Hey, what is an Asilomar LRR?" I believe that this is a good practice for those shelters wanting to move past the Asilomar Accords. And, frankly, it is probably a good thing for people to have questions about the oddities that are apparent when you look at how the Asilomar Accords recommends shelters compute and report their successes.
No Kill Nation has also created a new online resource for shelters and rescues that want to compute their Live Release Rate correctly. Just fill in the raw numbers into their Live Release Rate Calculator and press "Calculate." Hopefully, more shelters and rescues will begin using it, and we can all soon move past the Asilomar Accords once and for all.