I spent more than five years meeting thousands of these animals and provided names to the chosen few that would be placed in the media spotlight.
You may feel that assigning names to these animals is inconsequential in the midst of the intake process. They will be poked and prodded as veterinarians and adoption counselors search for ailments as simple to fix as fleas or mange or more challenging diagnoses of internal lumps or causes of severe weight loss. As various experts weigh each animal’s future, it is often the name that can make all the difference.
As the head of media relations for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), I was part of a team that understood the importance of names. A name will become an animal’s narrative in its search for a new home. It will be prominently displayed, clipped to each kennel or cage alongside columns of checklists highlighting vaccinations, attitude, bowel movements, and so forth.
In our shelters, it was always the name that was boldest, standing out in large black font. For many staff members, volunteers, and visitors this told their whole story.