Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between goals and targets?

In Maddie's Shelter Compass, goals refer to what you want to achieve in terms of your overall impact as well as the policies and programs you want to implement to get there. Your target is the measurable number associated with the goal, usually a maximum or minimum number of animals.

For example, your goal might be to 'Use an open adoptions program to increase adoptions to a minimum of 1400 annually by June of next year.' In the context of this goal, your target is 1400 adoptions.

What are the "targets" I see on my graph and where do they come from?

Your targets are the measurable goals you are seeking to achieve. Targets are calculated using the data you've entered. Intake and outcome targets are calculated using a percentage increase or decrease of values from your initial data entry. You can adjust your targets using the Adjust Targets button in the Data Overview section at the top of your roadmap.

Can I adjust or change my targets?

Yes, from your roadmap home, you can click Adjust My Goals in the Data Overview section at the top of the page or from the My Roadmap menu on the left.

How is my intake target calculated?

Your target for overall intake is calculated based on the intake you have when you start using Maddie's Shelter Compass and a simple percent reduction of that. You can adjust this target by clicking the Adjust my Targets button in the Data & Targets Overview section at the top of your roadmap.

Why don't you use per capita intake to establish intake targets?

Per capita intake is defined as the number of animals you take in to your shelter relative to the number of people in the population you serve. While some organizations have made suggestions for per capita intake formulas in the past, none (to our knowledge) have been applicable to all types of communities. However, we are currently working on a data analysis to establish an accurate recommendation for per capita intake and will add this to Maddie's Shelter Compass when we feel it is ready.

Which live release rate is used for my live release target and how is it calculated?

Maddie's Shelter Compass uses intake-based live release rate to establish live release targets and outcome goals that relate to live release. Intake-based live release is calculated like this:

 Intake Based Live Release Rate = (Live Outcomes / Live Intake) for a specified time period. 

You can choose any time period when calculating your live release rate; Maddie's Shelter Compass uses a period of 12 months when calculating your initial goals.

Why is intake-based live release rate used?

There are four or five commonly used live release rate calculations. Maddie's Shelter Compass uses intake-based live release because it answers the question that many people tend to be implicitly asking when they inquire about live release rate. That is, "If an animal enters the shelter, what is the probability that it leaves the shelter alive in a given time period?". For more information on live release rates and to see different live release rates applied to your shelter's data, go to the Live Release Rates tab in the Outcomes section of the Data Dashboard.

My shelter uses a different live release rate; can I change which live release rate is used for my targets and goals?

At this point, targets are all calculated using intake-based live release rate, and you cannot change which live release calculation is used for setting targets. However, it is helpful to know that as long as you are not keeping a very large proportion of your intake in your shelter for long periods of time, all of the live release rate calculations tend to start to equal each other over longer periods of time - a year or more. So even if you use something else, like "save rate," your annual targets will remain essentially the same regardless of live release calculation.

What are my live outcome targets, and how are they calculated?

Outcome targets are the number of specific live outcome types you want to achieve. For example, "Return to field 2,463 adult cats" or "Adopt out 1,867 dogs." All of these are calculated using a combination of your overall live release goal and the annual proportion of specific live outcomes you have achieved in the past.

What are the best practices used to generate the goals and plans in my roadmap?

Over the last two decades or so, best practices in animal sheltering have been established and refined. An array of national organizations, academic shelter medicine programs, shelter consultants, and shelters across the country have come to rely on a consistent set of programs, policies, and procedures all aimed at:

  1. Decreasing unnecessary intake into the shelter system
  2. Reducing length of stay to live outcome
  3. Increasing live outcomes

While many shelters often feel that particular challenges are unique to their communities, the truth is that we tend to see the same challenges over and over in communities of all shapes and sizes in all parts of the country. This is actually great news! It means that programs that work in one community will more than likely work in another. Yes, the details of implementation may be different, but the overall programs are essentially the same.

For a list of the organizations that have contributed to developing and establishing the best practices, check out the About page.

How is the list of goals on my roadmap generated?

The list of goals generated on your roadmap is generated using a combination of the data and information you enter, your current annual intake-based live release rate, and your annual live release rate target.

Through experience working in shelters and with different shelters across the country, we tend to find that shelters are in different places on their journey, and need to focus on different things depending on their current live release rate and the specific intake types they accept. The initial set of goals on your roadmap are recommended based on where your shelter is on its journey.

How do I edit or change the goals on my roadmap?

You can add or change goals on your roadmap by scrolling to the bottom of your roadmap and clicking Add or Change Goals.

Can I add my own custom goals to my roadmap?

At this time, you can't. However, if you would like to suggest that we add this feature or any others, please go to the Contact page, choose Request a Feature from the dropdown menu, and let us know what you'd like!

Is the data I upload to Maddie's Shelter Compass shared with anyone or made public?

No. All data is kept completely private and secure.

How do I update my data?

To upload more data, click Add Data in the Data Overview section of your roadmap or in the left hand column navigation column. Then, upload an up-to-date Shelter Animals Count data file.

How often do I need to add data to Maddie's Shelter Compass?

We recommend adding data every time you update your Shelter Animals Count data, so, once a month.

When I setup Maddie's Shelter Compass, I entered data manually. How do I update my data now?

If you started your Maddie's Shelter Compass roadmap using manual data entry, you'll need to start using Shelter Animals Count and upload the appropriate Shelter Animals Count data file to Maddie's Shelter Compass. To register for Shelter Animals Count Click Here.

Can I connect my shelter software to Maddie's Shelter Compass?

Not right now, but this is a feature we're considering. If you're interested in this feature being added, please go to the Contact page, choose Request a Feature from the dropdown menu, and let us know which shelter software you'd like to connect to.

I have and idea for a feature I'd like to add to Maddie's Shelter Compass. Do you take suggestions?

Yes! We're constantly developing and refining Maddie's Shelter Compass. If you would like to suggest a new feature, please go to the Contact page, choose Request a Feature from the dropdown menu, and let us know what you'd like.

What are teams and how do I create one?

Maddie's Shelter Compass is even better with teams! Using the teams feature, you can add other staff members to your Maddie's Shelter Compass account. Everyone on the team will be on the same page, and be able to see your shelter's data and goals. You'll be able to assign tasks to specific team members, too! To create a team, just go to Create a Team in the left hand column on any page.

What's the difference between return-to-field (RTF) and trap-neuter-return (TNR)?

Return-to-field (RTF) and trap-neuter-return (TNR) are both efforts aimed at outdoor, unowned cats. The two work hand-in-hand, but have key differences:

  1. Active vs. Passive: In a typical TNR program, cats are actively trapped and brought to a shelter or spay-neuter clinic for sterilization and vaccination. With an RTF program, cats arrive at the shelter passively, brought by citizens who find them.
  2. Behavior: TNR commonly involves cats who are not well socialized to people - "ferals." In contrast, RTF programs include all outdoor, unowned cats regardless of behavior. In fact, RTF programs intentionally include friendly cats, recognizing that these cats are friendly because they most likely have a home or a group of homes in a community.
  3. Colony status: TNR programs usually target existing colonies of cats and often require colonies for inclusion in the program. RTF programs do not require a colony. In fact, RTF programs aim to prevent colony formation by sterilizing small numbers of cats in an area before they reproduce and form colonies.
  4. Caretaker: TNR programs commonly require a colony caretaker. In contrast, RTF programs should not. Instead, RTF programs recognize the fact that if a cat is doing well in its outdoor home, then there is no reason to remove them from this environment in which they are thriving.

Finally, it is important to note that RTF and TNR are not an either/or choice. The two should be used in conjunction. RTF program cats arrive to the shelter passively. These cats act as "red flags" for the areas they're coming from, alerting the shelter to the need to engage a local cat advocacy group to look for colonies in those areas and perform active TNR.

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