Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Animal Group Claims City Falsified Data
By Dan McKay
Journal Staff Writer
A nonprofit advocacy group apparently received bad information from Albuquerque's animal shelters in response to public-information requests.
Debbra Colman, founder of the Alliance for Albuquerque Animals, said she believes the misinformation was deliberate.
"I'm profoundly disturbed that for three years the Alliance has been given false information," she said. "It just doesn't make any sense that the reports could have inadvertently been wrong rather than deliberately falsified."
The figures given to the alliance understate both the number of animals euthanized and the number adopted. However, they generally don't contradict the trends shown by the correct numbers.
The city's animal-welfare director, Jeanine Patterson, said her staff discovered incorrect computer formulas used to generate some reports and has fixed the problem.
The computer formula trouble, however, doesn't extend to euthanasia and adoption numbers distributed to the news media, she said. Those are based on more recently developed database reports.
"I did verify all numbers given to the media," Patterson said Tuesday in an interview. "I know for a fact that everything I've given out is accurate. ... We have nothing to hide."
The alliance has requested euthanasia and adoption numbers from the shelters for years. The group contacted the Journal because the numbers reported by the city in recent newspaper articles differed from the numbers it had.
Colman is a former management consultant for the shelters.
Ed Adams, the city's chief operating officer, said a question about the accuracy of reports is part of the reason the mayor shook up the animal program last year. Mayor Martin Chávez last fall brought in new leadership for the shelters and made the program a stand-alone department in city government, meaning it reports directly to his office.
The bad formulas were developed before Patterson took over, Adams said.