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  • Mike Fry

Artificial Intelligence Takes a Look at Animal Statistics to Keep Shelters Honest

A while ago No Kill Learning migrated our internet database technologies to a new platform, which has allowed for a long and growing list of new features and services, including a new version of RescueSuite Software, a robust shelter management tool, that can run natively on a shelter or rescue group's own website. I'll talk more about that in a future blog post, and explain the importance of hosting your shelter management technology yourself. For today, I want to talk about the use of artificial intelligence and how No Kill Learning is now making it available to analyze shelter statistics, which could be potentially game-changing for people who want a more detailed assessment of animal shelter data, without needing to hire a shelter expert to do the analytical work for them.

The unfortunate reality is that most people do not like math, and, as a result, the moment numbers and statistics come up, peoples' brains check out. This has made it easy for animal shelters to misrepresent their statistics, often emboldened to do so by large, national organizations with vested interest in presenting the industry in general as doing better than it actually is. It is not just donors, members and the general public that are often mislead about animal shelter outcomes. Shelter directors are also frequently less than transparent with their own boards of directors, using a host of techniques to artificially inflate their reported Live Release Rates (LRR) in order to make it look like they are doing better than they are.

Animal shelter experts familiar with the tricks used to fudge shelter LRRs have their own tricks for catching them. Is there a higher than normal number of animals listed as "Owner Requested Euthanasia"? Are there animal outcomes listed as "Owner Requested Euthanasia"? Are the numbers of animals "Returned to Field" in line with the best performing animal shelters? These are just a handful of the data points shelter experts check when assessing a shelter's statistics to ensure there are not issues with the data being reported.

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To help animal advocates, board members and others interested in checking shelter statistics without hiring a consultant, No Kill Learning has updated our online Live Release Rate Calculator so that it can check these things for you. All you have to do is enter the shelter's raw statistics into the calculator. When you press the "Compute LRR" button, the system will generate a Live Release Rate report card and tell you if any possible issues were found in the data. To access the detailed SmartReport it generates, a small membership fee is required, to help fund the continued technology development for the system.

Now anyone can help to keep their local animal shelters honest. Check it out!

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