May 19, 2024

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Happy Paws, Trained Hearts

Toronto animal shelter’s ‘Good Dogs, Bad Names’ adoption campaign launches

3 min read

Allow us to set the scene: You’ve just walked through the local animal shelter and decided to adopt a dog. You spot a black and brown Rottweiler mix, about a year and a half old. Then you learn the pup’s name: “Meet Warm Buttered Yams,” the shelter staff says.

It’s all part of the City of Toronto Animal Services’s “Good Dogs, Bad Names” adoption campaign, where the shelter has given its residents silly and self-described “unhinged” names in hopes of inspiring potential pet parents to re-home — and re-name — them.

“Gone are the Rovers, Spots and Fidos,” the shelter wrote in an Instagram post. “In their place are ‘Mothball,’ ‘Danny DeVito,’ and ‘Dijon Ketchup.’ We don’t want these dogs to be stuck with these weird names, so we’re turning to you for help!”

Additional standout names include Garlic Bread (though we’d like to debate if that’s actually a bad name), SHRIMPS SHRIMPS SHRIMPS, Galleria Mall, and CYB3RSPACE.

Through Sunday, the silly names will stay in play and adoption fees will be lowered to $50 in efforts to clear the city’s crowded kennels. The Toronto shelter, like many others, including in Philadelphia, is often crowded. Dogs can end up in shelters for reasons like being found as a stray, surrendered by a previous owner, for medical care, or for holds when a lost dog is recovered.

“We woke up one day and were like ‘uh oh, we have three shelters filled to the brim with amazing dogs,’” Elana Trainoff, the shelter’s head of partnerships, told The Inquirer in a phone interview. “We knew we needed to make space for other dogs, especially dogs that are highly adoptable.”

Trainoff said the campaign was conceptualized within a day after the team’s social media coordinator was inspired by similar TikToks showcasing dogs with silly names.

Since launching last week, the shelter’s videos have earned hundreds of likes, shares, and comments across social media with some users posting their favorite names. One user even asked jokingly if the adoption fee would remain discounted even if they opted to keep the pet’s silly name (the shelter ruled that they’d let this slide).

Trainoff said eight dogs — Mothball, Wedgie, Garlic Bread, Omelette Au Fromage, REO Speedwagon, Gas Guzzler, HAHA, and Zamboni — have been adopted as of Tuesday.

Staff came up with the silly names and accompanying bios as they got to know the new intakes’ personalities.

For instance, Dijon Ketchup was described as: ”the most magnificent, fanciest husky. Think of him as the Grey Poupon of dogs!” While CYB3RSPACE is touted as “the coolest dog on the web!”

“We don’t really have a lot of turnaround time in the shelters,” Trainoff said. “When we need to move dogs, we need to move them quickly.”

She added, “There are so many shelters full of rescue animals who are ready to be amazing pets and snuggle up on your sofa. We hope people will adopt these dogs and then rename them so they don’t have to be embarrassed in front of their friends.”

Here’s hoping Danny DeVito and the other silly-named fur babies find the new homes (and names) they deserve soon.

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