May 30, 2023


pets keep it coming

Front Porch, Tumbleweed, Knock Knock: How Austin Pets Alive! names its pups

2 min read

AUSTIN (KXAN) — From Grasshopper to Hummus to Taylor Snift, you might notice that adoptable dogs and cats at Austin Pets Alive! have some creative—and sometimes weird—names.

Katie Mellon, APA’s dog intake coordinator, has the job of naming each dog who comes into the nonprofit. A list is kept with name ideas that is updated whenever a staff member or volunteer finds inspiration.

Sometimes puppy litters are themed to keep track of each group. For example, one group of previous dogs was named after furniture items like Ottoman, Chaise Lounge and Floor Lamp.

“It’s one of those things that keeps us laughing and giggling,” Mellon said. “It’s like ‘Oh my gosh look at this dog named Floor Lamp.’”

Other litter themes have been “Gilmore Girls,” utensils, sea animals, trees and mushroom varieties.

It’s important that each animal has a unique name, Mellon said. If a dog comes in with a common name like “Bella,” Mellon will search for similar names on baby name websites to keep it different. This prevents multiple dogs with the same name at APA! at once.

After adoption, families do not always keep their dog’s shelter name. Though one dog that was renamed “Cheese Puff” at APA kept its name post-adoption, Mellon said.

APA! aims to keep names positive, which keeps their sometimes difficult jobs fun. There is a retired name list of names that are overused or names of previous, challenging dogs to reduce “compassion fatigue” of APA staff and volunteers.

Cats are named by the nonprofit’s cat team. During kitten season, litters are named through the alphabet starting with “A” names and ending with “Z” names, Mellon said. That’s why you might see names followed by a number, like “Boyd 16” or “Ukelele 14.”

“They get to name cats really ridiculous things because it’s not like cats are coming to their name,” she said.

Learn more about each of APA’s adoptable dogs and adoptable cats online.