At Christmastime, Santa Claus visits little boys and girls - and their pets.
Hundreds of dogs, cats and other pets sat on old St. Nick's lap last Saturday and Sunday at PetsMart on Robert C. Daniel Parkway as part of Pictures with Santa Paws, a Columbia County Humane Society fund- raiser.
"It keeps getting bigger and bigger," said Donna Evans, the president of the society. "Last year we took 600 pictures."
Pet owners paid $9.95 for their pet's photo with Santa, of which $5 goes to the society's building fund and to help spay and neuter animals, something Ms. Evans said is very important.
"We're never going to have enough homes for all of the homeless animals," she said. "In order for every homeless animal to have a home, a family of four would have to own 24 dogs and 36 cats."
Steve and Tina Miller's dogs, Elvis and Priscilla, had pictures taken with Santa Paws at PetsMart on Sunday. Santa will be at the store on Robert C. Daniel Parkway again today.
Photo by C. Samantha McKevie
The society has 75 to 80 animals in its foster care daily, Ms. Evans said, some of which are brought to PetsMart every weekend to be adopted.
Dixie, a black cocker mix, was in the society's foster care until Judy Graham, of Evans, adopted her in July 2002. She said she brought Dixie to PetsMart to see Santa now that her son is too old.
"I feel like Dixie's my second child, so I wanted her to take a picture with Santa," she said.
Nancy Bobbitt, the society's vice president, has been taking the pet photos since the fund-raiser's inception six years ago.
"It's fun to do, to watch the animals' reactions," she said. "To a lot of people that come here, these are their children."
Steve and Tina Miller brought their Jack Russells, Elvis and Priscilla, who donned holiday gear and a Santa hat.
"They're engaged right now because Priscilla's only five months; this is his future wife," Ms. Miller said about her pets.
"They're a part of our family, they get to see Santa," Ms. Miller said. "Plus, they had to ask for new toys."
About 75 percent of Santa's visitors at PetsMart are dogs. Ms. Evans and Ms. Bobbitt said the remainder is made up of cats, snakes and some unusual pets.
"We've had people bring a pet possum, skunk, ferrets and a rat," Ms. Evans said.
The society will take pet photos with Santa at PetsMart from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Pictures with Santa Paws, a fund-raiser for Columbia County Humane Society
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
WHERE: PetsMart on Robert C. Daniel Parkway
Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or email@example.com.
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