Some pet owners seize the naming process as an opportunity to make a joke. Maybe you want an excuse to use an expletive in public, or perhaps you want to capitalize on a cultural touchstone before anyone else. Whatever the case, pet parents should refrain from using offensive or insensitive pet names whenever possible. In most cases, offensive pet names say more about the owner than they do the animal. A dog named “Stalin” might be the kindest, tamest dog on the block. When your neighbors realize this, all eyes will be on you—and your outdated sense of humor.
Offensive vs. Insensitive vs. Oversensitive
The audience also has to be considered and offensive vs. insensitive vs. oversensitive can be in the ear of the beholder. The idea that Darth Kitty is a “truly obnoxious” pet name is itself obnoxious in our opinion. This Reddit forum might provide something more of a realistic gray area for people looking to tickle their funny bone. Yet, we also understand the urge to avoid citing the best examples of offensive pet names—both in this day of social media outrage but also because we don’t want to, in any way, condone, encourage, or normalize people who might intend real harm to animals.
For decent people, it’s essential to remember that you will be the person to deal with the implications of an offensive or culturally insensitive pet name. Imagine bringing your dog to the vet for a check-up; “Yes, I have Satan here for a 2:00 appointment.” That name will go on a crate, a chart, prescriptions, and into several databases during the dog’s life. Do you really want to be the person associated with a joke that went stale five years ago?
The Times They are A-Changing
To that end, what you think is funny now may not be funny in a few years. Cat and dogs can live for a long time, and a misnaming in his kitten or puppy years cannot be corrected in adulthood. We’ve talked about the importance of maintaining older dogs’ names; if you chose to name your pet “Barf Bag” in the 80s, the joke was likely obsolete after just a few years. It is essential to choose a name that will age well with the animal.
If you do decide to go with an offensive or insensitive name, don’t say we didn’t warn you. These types of pet names can have real implications throughout the animal’s life—especially if you plan to travel with your furry friend. As Dogs on Planes will tell you, airlines rarely discuss names in their pet travel information, but most require some form of documentation stating an animal’s name, age, and breed. If an airline official sees that your pet’s name is “Hitler,” well—don’t be surprised if you’re selected for an additional round of security screening.