Animal Shelters Use Creative Names To Help Get Dogs Adopted

From Taylor Snift and Cindy Pawper to Ravioli and Side Salad, fun names for puppies and dogs can catch the eye of potential adopters — and make you smile

(Today) Savannah, Hoda, Carson, Al Roker, Craig, Jenna Bush Hager … great names, right? They also proved lifesaving for six puppies last summer.

The nonprofit rescue organization Austin Pets Alive! pulled the six pups from overcrowded Texas animal shelters, where they were slated for euthanasia — just in time for NBC’s nationwide adoption event Clear the Shelters. So Suzie Chase, the group’s community relations officer, suggested naming them after TODAY’s anchors and hosts.

“Of course, they were all adopted almost immediately,” Chase told TODAY.


Left to right: Volunteers from Austin Pets Alive! hold puppies named Savannah, Hoda, Carson, Al Roker, Craig and Jenna Bush Hager. –  Courtesy of Austin Pets Alive!


With millions of dogs entering animal shelters and rescue organizations each year, staff and volunteers have to get creative to give each pet a unique name — not only to keep track of dogs in the system, but to catch the eye of potential adopters.

Picking names and sharing them with the public is an important form of marketing adoptable pets, according to Lisa Lane Cardin, director of marketing and development for the nonprofit Petco Love, which supports pet adoption efforts across America.

“Pet adoption is serious — it saves millions of lives every year — and it’s inspiring to see more shelter pet marketers having fun with the concept because really, what we’re doing is marketing among the most desirable commodities in the world: unconditional love,” she told TODAY in an email.

With so many puppies and dogs who need homes, staff and volunteers can’t simply choose popular female dog names like Bella, Luna and Daisy, or male dog names like Prince, Rex and Buddy. In fact, it’s often a fun challenge.


Sometimes Austin Pets Alive! changes names of dogs rescued from neglect, hoarding or abuse to give them a fresh start, like Abe, who survived being attacked by another dog while chained to a swing set and found a loving forever home.Photo courtesy of Austin Pets Alive!


It’s a sentiment shared by rescue advocates across the country. Katie Gill, operations manager at Safe Humane Chicago, a nonprofit rescue organization that works closely with Chicago Animal Care and Control to help pets find homes, said both female and male dog names can be places the team would like to travel — such as Delaware, Ireland and Glasgow — to food or drinks.

A few of the dogs currently at the shelter with “cocktail” names include Pinot, Paloma, Riesling, Chardonnay, Mimosa, Sake, Vermouth and Hendricks (for summer G&Ts, naturally).

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