Picking All The Apples
In the ASPCA Shelter Research & Development department, we have been digging our teeth into location targeting using GIS technology and have been learning some really interesting things.
Our work so far has been focused on decreasing intake from high-intake locations through spay/neuter. By using shelter data and GIS technology, we can identify areas where S/N is likely to have the highest impact – for example, areas with high percentages of unaltered animals entering the shelter…
… paired with areas with high concentrations of litter intake. Finding the areas is half of the equation – but the other half is proving to be even more fascinating. Location targets like these are likely most impactful in communities where low-cost S/N is already available to those who want it. The location focus involves not just providing services to those in the location who are asking for and want the services, but a full saturation of S/N – so that we ensure that you actually hit those who were not likely to have used your services.
Dr. Margaret Slater of the Shelter R&D team came up with the great analogy – that we are not looking to go to the orchard to pick all the low-hanging fruit, but instead we want to pick every apple off of one tree. Just as in the orchard, one needs different tools to get the low-hanging fruit than those tools used to grab the pieces higher up the tree, so do we need different outreach tools to get to those who really have no interest, or gumption, in having their dog or cat spayed or neutered.
We found this to be the case in location targets in two communities. In both cases, the areas had access to low-cost S/N for the past few years. When outreach was applied through traditional methods that normally fill their clinics, we found that uptake was very, very low. Why? The low-hanging fruit had already taken advantage of available services – the intake in these locations was coming from those “higher up the tree.”
Getting this type of saturation involves outreach that is different than what many of us have done previously. I featured one great example of this new type of outreach in a blog that focused on Amanda Arrington’s program, The Coalition to Unchain Dogs.
I recently presented some of the data we have been collecting around GIS at the SAWA Conference last month. In coming up with a solution together, workshop attendees did some brain storming around ways to reach those that don’t know about your programs or have any interest in getting their pets spayed or neutered. Check out their awesome list of ideas here.
What are your ideas?