We spent one day a week for four years volunteering at the Town Shelter. We originally went there to walk the dogs and spend some time with them to make their sad days a little better. After a month or so, we realized that there was a way we could help to actually get dogs adopted and out of the shelter to make room for another dog in need. We found out that the shelter and also the head volunteer had web sites but were unable to maintain the constant updates required to make such a system work.
So my mission found a purpose. I began bringing in a digital camera and made a chart to record the information on the dogs. The shelter houses anywhere from 74 up to 100 dogs at any time with a good percentage coming in and going out each week. Now, after doing this for several months I've got it down to a pretty routine system. It takes about 2 hours to update the current list of dogs. While "taking inventory" as I call it, I also check the dogs for implanted microchips. Some dogs have microchips with coded information that can be read with a scanner. If registered, the dog's owner can be immediately traced- thus opening up a cage for another dog. (For more information on microchipping go to www.avidmicrochip.com or see your Veterinarian.)
After inventory, I walk the dogs and get to know them a little. I test their temperment to see if they are suitable for homes with children, how they get along with other dogs and cats. I also test them for any previous training such as sit and paw. Finally, a few digital pictures are taken of the dog.
If time and energy permit, I might grab a particularly dirty dog and give it some grooming. This might be as simple as a bath but often also involves clipping off matted hair, trimming nails and cleaning ears.