ADOPTION FINDER PROJECT
The Moorook Adoption Finder Project was started in 2015 by a group of tech savvy volunteers with the aim of streamlining the way in which shelters and rescues utilise technology to inform the public about the animals in their care.
The birth of the Internet has dramatically changed the way we exchange and receive information, and has been very beneficial in enabling shelters and rescues to match up the animals in their care that require a forever home with the people and families that are able to supply a safe loving environment. However, it is a little known fact that the birth of this new technology has placed a huge burden on the resources of shelters that mostly rely on the assistance of volunteer staff to deal with the day to day running of the shelter.
In this day and age a web presence is essential and each and every shelter or rescue faces the burden of developing and maintaining a website to display the animals in their care, which then requires constant updating in able to reflect up to date information about the animals to the public. As if this was not hard enough, then along came social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram which revolutionised the ability for shelters to make contact with a large number of people, however once again this placed an added burden on the resources of the shelter to keep posts and albums up to date in order to deliver up to the minute information.
This massive burden on volunteer resources became even greater when various websites that attempted to categorise the animals from all shelters into a searchable database began to appear. While these sites have the very best of intentions, unfortunately due to the fact that these websites rely on the shelters to manually input and delete their own data into a website interface, in actual fact these types of sites unintentionally create yet a further burden on the resources of the shelter. Shelters and rescues already have their own websites which serve as the main hub for all information relating to their organisation, and all animals in their care are listed on their website, so the duplication of the same information that needs to be manually entered into yet another website is something that the shelters and rescue organisations have few extra resources to be able to cope with.
Here at Moorook, as a fully working animal shelter we know all too well about the increasing burden on our resources in order to keep up with this new technology, and the massive amount of people hours required every day to keep our Internet presence up to date.
In a situation that was literally crippling our resources we knew there had to be a better way, and thanks to the help of a group of tech savvy volunteers we took the problem head on have gradually developed an answer that has reduced the burden to an absolute minimum.
Here at the Moorook website when we need to add or delete an animal that requires a new home we now only enter the data one time into our Facebook page and the rest all happens automatically. The animals on our very own website are loaded automatically from our Facebook page which eliminates the burden of entering the data more than once.
The time and effort this type of program was saving us was enormous and the decision was made to extend the project to offer a similar functionality to rescues and shelters throughout the country. We had at our fingertips the knowledge and resources we needed to automatically pull in the data from the other shelters without the need for them to do any manual data entry so it was decided that the next phase of the project was to be to extend this incredible functionality to help all other shelters throughout the country, by automatically pulling in their information from their websites to be categorized into one enormous searchable pet adoption database right here on the Moorook Animal Shelter website.
Our team of volunteer web programmers set about creating the base program to pull in the data and then finetuned it to accommodate the layout of data on each individual shelter and rescue website. It was a huge job but with time and patience a cluster of programs were created that were finally able to grab the data and store it effectively in the database. Next the work on the user interface began where the general public would be able to search for the pet of their choice based on certain criteria such as breed. The first attempt was a complete failure as the stress on the database was way to high and it was judged that high volume traffic to the site would certainly bring the server to an almighty halt. The team was aware that the average user device already boasted adequate processing power and even greater power was foreseen for hand-held devices in the near future, so the decision to take as much pressure away from the server and divert it to the user's device was made and hence a rebuild of the user interface was undertaken. As a result of the rebuild the finished product was a highly efficient, low server impact design that will stand the test of time and increased traffic to the website.
With the finished program in our team's hands we now began to realise what a powerful and very important tool it actually was that we had created. The data on the websites of other shelters and rescues was constantly being monitored for additions or deletions and the number of pets automatically being loaded to the database was increasing daily, however unfortunately there was still one problem. As hard as the team tried to continue improving the algorithms that are used to recognise the correct data on the various rescue and shelter websites there was still a small margin of error that sometimes caused the wrong information, such as an incorrect age or size for the pet to be entered into the database.
After much debate in relation to overcoming the inconsistencies it was decided that the only way to ensure a high level of accuracy was to use the human eye, and as such we developed an online volunteer program where members of the general public can sign up to help validate the data coming into the database daily. Many hands make light work is the theme of the online volunteer program and we always aim to have a high number of volunteers each validating just a few animals each and every day. Keeping the burden on our online volunteers to a minimum each day was deemed as being the most likely way to attain longevity out of each and every online volunteer and it seems to be working well, however inevitably our online volunteers come and go and for this reason it means that we are constantly on the lookout for new online volunteers to sign up to help.
Volunteering to help validate the data is very simple and as a result each volunteer plays their part each day in helping a few of the thousands of pets throughout the country that are currently looking for their forever home. It is an extremely satisfying and rewarding experience and takes no longer than a few minutes each day on a computer or smartphone.
Why not give it a go? By being a part of this important work you can be assured that your efforts are actually directly helping to decrease the amount of time and effort required by each and every shelter to keep their animals out on the Internet and viewable to the general public. Just a few minutes of you and many other online volunteers' time each and every day can help to create that important link between the shelters and the people and families out there that are able to provide a safe and loving home! You can join us by clicking the link back to the volunteer's sign up page below.
Best regards from the Adoption Finder Project Team!
Sunday to Friday - please call for an appointment 0417868394
Saturdays - Closed