From the very beginning of the introduction of database software in animal welfare, the primary demand made by animal shelter personnel was to keep it simple. You can’t imagine the number of requests made to allow for the primary breed to be “mixed.” Simple requests like that tend to make the software useless. Data descriptors and roles are what pulls the information together.
Animals play multiple roles within an incident: they can play the role of stray (unowned), owned, previously owned, suspect,victim, etc. In any incident, an animal can carry multiple roles. These roles paint a picture of the animal in any incident.
As with animals, people play roles in incidents: owner, previous owner, adopter, suspect, victim, caretaker, harborer, etc. People roles become very clouded in that multiple people can claim the same roles: such as a household where a family of people came the role as owner. This becomes further clouded when one family member surrenders an animal to the shelter against the wishes of other family members.
Address play an important role as they become the location of owners and incident locations.
It is easy to see how complex relationship are in tracking data. For this reason, a perfect software tool has yet to be created. Each tool makes compromises to keep the data manageable. The software tool has to be simple enough to be used by shelter personnel, but complex enough to gather sufficient data to understand the incident at hand.