Statistics without numbers

I’m a fan of the City Hall Notebook, but sometimes I wish Nick K. would call people out when they just make things up and/or have no numbers to support their claims.

In yesterday’s column, Stacey Coleman of the National Canine Research Council Action Fund said that “based on city statistics, Worcester has an 87 percent ‘failure to comply’ rate for dog licensing” and that “if existing dog licensing ordinances were enforced, the city would collect an additional $626,000 to $736,000 annually.”  (These are both quotes from the column, not from her.)

Again, I would like to point out that, in December, the City Clerk said that Worcester had approximately 10,000 dogs, and that they had a compliance rate of 72% for dog licensing.  Have things changed so much in the past eight months that we’ve gone from 28% “failure to comply” down to 87%?

Also, $626,000 in additional annual revenue would mean (at $20/dog) that there are 31,300 unregistered dogs (or, about 10 times the estimate the Clerk made).  If we estimate that there are about 7,200 registered dogs, that would be approximately 38,500 dogs in the city, or about 1 dog for every five people in Worcester.  It would also mean that we have approximately as many dogs as Boston, a city that has a much greater human population than our own.

It sounds like Coleman might be using some sort of pet calculator rather than “city statistics” — because, well, the city says there are 10,000, and the Telegram has used that figure previously — just see the end of this article from May.

And — for the record — I’m not a fan of non-residents or property owners inserting themselves into city affairs, whether the issue be Arizona or dog ordinances.