SAP for animal shelters

This is my dog, Elvis. He’s a 2 year old Siberian Husky from a local animal rescue organization, which really consists of one frazzled woman with a dozen dogs packed in her house. I’ve had him for 5 months now and he’s turned out to be perfect: friendly, calm, gentle, clean, smart and elvisplayful. And when we’re walking, he scares people so they move out of our way.

I am lucky to have gotten this dog. Because I’ve never had a dog and I live in an apartment, the shelters I contacted from PetFinder either turned me down immediately or, in most cases, failed to respond. I’ve since met many people who also ran into this resistance from shelters and opted to get a dog from a breeder instead. The only reason I got Elvis is because the woman who runs this shelter was distracted by personal problems and allowed her much more reasonable and level-headed friends handle the adoption. They said it was common for shelters (including this one) to turn down lots of good homes, hoping to find a perfect home for their dogs. The people who run shelters think with their hearts, not with their brains.

The problem is that the number of surplus dogs & cats vastly exceeds the total capacity of all shelters to house and feed them. Consequently, the local animal control office is forced to euthanize thousands of animals. If a shelter can find a home for a dog, it frees up a spot to save one more dog. When these shelters hang on to their dogs, they are condemning another to its death. Worse, if a person grows frustrated and turns to a breeder, it sends an economic signal to continue breeding more dogs. The goal is to place as many dogs in good homes as possible. Obvious, yet it isn’t happening.

I’d like to build a website to help manage animal shelters. Sort of a “SAP for shelters”. It should track their inventory of pets and streamline communication with customers. It should manage volunteers and foster homes. It should monitor food, medicine, and supplies. It should keep track of finances, donations and lots of other stuff. But first I need to learn more about how shelters operate. If Once I get going, I hope to make this all open-source and encourage other, smarter web developers to fix my mistakes. This won’t solve all the problems faced by animal shelters, but it will help smooth the path to those solutions.

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