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Apologies if this isn't the norm, but I am seeking advice for the database design for 'dog rescue/adoption'.

I've done my normalization research and this is my first attempt at database design. Any tips/feedbacks/criticism?

The trickiest part was dealing with dogs/users/organisations and representing who owns a dog.

  1. a dog can belong to an organisation. An organisation can have many organisation users. Think animal shelter/pound

  2. a dog can belong to an organisation user. think a one man band with a large property housing multiple dogs at a time

  3. a dog can belong to a single user, not attached to any organisation. think someone moving overseas and they need to find their dog a new owner

So, the dog table has to have either an organisation ID or a user ID attached to it, or both. Perhaps a trigger stating that one must be not null.

Dog Adoption/Rescue Database Design ERD

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  • Can there be multiple pounds under one organization, for example a city who has multiple pounds? Can a dog be moved around different pounds?
    – SQLburn
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 23:31
  • the pound would be the organisation itself. it would be possible for a dog to be moved from one pound to another pound. I believe in this situation it would just be an update of 'organisationID' for that particular dog. Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 23:46
  • thanks! in regards to the question, that is correct. In this situation a dog is owned by either an organisation or a user. a user can also belong to an organisation. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 1:35
  • thanks for that link. it is a similar scenario. I have some reading to do in regards to subtype/supertype. Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 4:31

2 Answers 2

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You can have organisation, user, and location all have a reference to a common table representing something that can be an owner to a dog. Then dog can have a single reference to this table. Here is a diagram explaining.

enter image description here

dog.owner_id references can_own_dog.can_own_dog_id, in case that isn't clear. Each of the can_own_dog foreign keys is unique in their table, ideally unique across all three tables.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with object-oriented programming, but the idea is similar to multiple classes implementing a single interface.

On another note, your diagram says "Users can have multiple locations", and "Dogs can have multiple locations". I think these mean to say "Locations can have many users" and "Locations can have many dogs"?

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  • Thanks for that updated diagram. Should I keep the 'organisation_x_users' table in the case I want to look up what user is a part of what organisation? (see 2. requirement of OP 'a dog can belong to an organisation user. think a one man band with a large property housing multiple dogs at a time'). In response to your 'on another note' question, yes, you're right, I got my phrasing wrong. As for the rest of the tables outlined in my original screenshot - do you think my database is sufficiently designed? Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 5:11
  • Yes, you should keep organisation_x_users, the diagram i posted has that table. I didn't include all of the columns, or its relationship between user and organisation to simplify the diagram. The rest of the database design looks good. Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 16:50
  • Ah yes, you're right. OK, your diagram makes sense. This is called a subtype/supertype relationship, I think. Just to confirm, can_own_dog.can_own_dog_Id is the primary key which then has 3 foreign key references in each of the 3 organisation, user,organisation_x_users table? Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 4:30
  • yes to the primary key foreign key question.It's sort of subtype/supertype, but I would think of it more of an interface/implementation model. For example, another similar scenario can pop up where multiple entities can give funding for a dog. You can create a can_fund_dog table (interface), and then user and organisation could have foreign keys to that table similarly to the way it does for can_own_dog. Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 16:03
  • I just realized that I didn't make it clear that the can_own_dog_id field should be unique in organisation, user, and organisation_x_users. I'll update the answer. Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 16:04
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your table is fully normalised so that's good.

as for who lists a dog for adoption, you could use a bridging table between the organisation and user table.

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