LEND A HELPING HAND

Help at the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter

There are various ways to help animals at the shelter, even if you cannot adopt.

Walk dogs: Do you like to walk in Animas Park along the river? Stop by the shelter before your walk and take a dog with you on the stroll. Stacie Voss, the shelter's animal welfare director, said dogs have been adopted by people who saw them while walking in the park, and it gives the dogs a chance to stretch their legs. The dogs even get special "adopt me" leashes to wear while out and about.

Foster: With litters of puppies and kittens just starting to come in, the shelter needs more foster homes. A litter of eight kittens with upper respiratory infections was brought into the shelter Thursday morning. Voss said the shelter has a quarantine room for sick animals like these kittens, but they will recover faster in a foster home.

Donate: Do you have old blankets to get rid of? Drop them off at the shelter to provide soft beds for the pets.

For more ways to help, visitfmtn.org.

FARMINGTON — Stacie Voss walked down the aisle of dog kennels at the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter on Thursday morning. Voss, the shelter's animal welfare director, paused beside a kennel with what appeared to be a labrador retriever mix inside.

The 6-year-old female's name is Sandy, and she has been at the shelter since November. Voss said she hadn't started working at the shelter when Sandy was brought in, but she suspects Sandy got her name based on her coat color.

When each animal arrives at intake, the person working intake gives the pet its name.

Some have common names like Max, a pit-bull mix who has been at the shelter since November, like Sandy. Other names are more unique, such as Muhammad, another pit-bull mix.

A malamute mix that is on stray hold is shown on Friday at the Aztec Animal Shelter.
A malamute mix that is on stray hold is shown on Friday at the Aztec Animal Shelter. (Megan Farmer — The Daily Times)

Voss said sometimes people read different things into the names. For example, she said a person told her Muhammad would be adopted if he had been given a "good Christian name."

Other pets, such as two dilute tortoiseshell cats, Alice and Saphira, had names when they were surrendered by their owners. These names stay with the pets.

Pet names can be chosen based on physical traits or, when it comes to litters, on themes like flowers or holidays, Voss said.

She said the shelter currently has a mastiff mix they named Hulk because of his size. Chihuahuas often get Latino names such as Rico.

John Maez often works intake with the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter and is known for coming up with some of the more creative names.

"Personally, I'm happy with my name, but if I could choose my own name, I'd want something more creative," Maez said.

To come up with names, he looks at behaviors of the pets. For instance, if a dog is jumping on tables and sniffing everything, he might name it Curious. He also watches the end credits of movies to find creative names.

Maez said most of the time, people change the animals' names after adoption, but sometimes they keep the name and bring the dog in later for spay or neuter. He said it's a good feeling when owners keep the names he chose.

His favorite name he gave an animal was Zero. Zero was an orange cat that reminded him of a childhood pet with the same name.

While names are assigned at intake at Farmington's shelter, the naming process can take much longer at the Aztec Animal Shelter.

Two shaggy, black goats nibbled on hay and scratched their long horns on the ground in the barn of the Aztec shelter Friday afternoon.

Rosemary Boucher, the support service secretary at the shelter, said the goats were brought to the shelter the previous day and she is still trying to decide what to name them.

Like Farmington's shelter, animals who come in with names get to keep them. But these goats were surrendered without names.

Animal Welfare Director, Staci Voss, plays with Sebastian,Thursday, March 20, 2014, at the Farmington Animal Shelter in Farmington.
Animal Welfare Director, Staci Voss, plays with Sebastian,Thursday, March 20, 2014, at the Farmington Animal Shelter in Farmington. (Jon Austria / The Daily Times)

Boucher said she looks at breeds, personality, color and size when naming animals.

She said a large male German shepherd might get a name like Odin or Maverick, while a small dog would get a "little dog name."

Cats often receive more generic names like Mittens or a brown cat could be named Cocoa.

Many of the pets still have "unknown" on their information sheets.

"Sometimes, it takes a couple days before we name them," Boucher said.

With strays, the staff waits until the stray hold is up. The stray hold is the period of time the shelter keeps the animals waiting for their owners to reclaim them before putting the animals up for adoption. For animals with tags or microchips, the shelter waits five days. An animal with no identification is held for three days.

A cat that is available for adoption is shown on Friday at the Aztec Animal Shelter.
A cat that is available for adoption is shown on Friday at the Aztec Animal Shelter. (Megan Farmer / The Daily Times)

Some of the more memorable names for Boucher are names given to a pair of puppies who were found at the dump — Oscar and Stella, after "Sesame Street" characters who live in trash cans.

However, Boucher said her favorite name she gave an animal was Libby.

Libby was an Australian shepherd corgi cross that Boucher described as "the cutest little thing you ever did see."

It took her a while to select the name for the dog, and she was playing with Libby when she finally chose the name. She doesn't know why she chose to name the dog Libby.

"It just came to me," she said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.