The Norman Transcript

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October 13, 2012

City animal shelter enters modern era

NORMAN — The cultural image of the evil dog catcher portrayed in many movies and cartoons is not an accurate depiction of the dedicated staff at the Norman Animal Shelter. Animal Welfare Supervisor John Bowman and his staff work hard to protect the animals under their care and to reunite lost pets with their owners.

Now that job, and many of the other jobs of the animal control staff, has gotten a lot easier. Chameleon, a new computer system designed especially for animal control needs, has been up and running for about a month and Bowman and his staff continue to discover the wide range of possibilities for using that software system and its complementary hardware.

“Chameleon is records management for animal welfare, and we’re still tailoring it for what we want,” Bowman said. “It has a lot more capabilities than we’re using right now.”

But the implementation has already made a major difference in the way Norman Animal Welfare does business.

Under the old system when an animal was picked up, city animal control staff filled out records by hand and an animal was recorded in a book. As much information as possible was recorded in order to help identify the animal.

“If you called in to tell me your animal was missing, I had to use a different form,” Bowman said. “We had to manually look through the book to see if maybe it was there.”

If no match was found in the book, the lost pet forms were hung on the wall.

“Now we have Chameleon which is a database,” Bowman said.

While Bowman still recommends coming into the shelter and looking at the animals to make sure your lost pet is not in custody as the best means of identifying your pet, the database and computer web sites have made reuniting pets with their owners much more efficient.

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