ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA — For some families in the United States this time of year it’s a tradition to take their children to visit Santa Claus. The children tell Santa what they want for Christmas and may have their photo taken with him. Now the family pet also has the opportunity to have a photo taken with Santa. Some pet parents are even putting those photos on their holiday cards.
Clover Campbell came to this pet store in Alexandria, Virginia, with her cat, who was not sure he wanted his picture taken with Santa. Still, she and her husband got a family portrait.
“I think it’s pretty hilarious. We can’t pass up the opportunity to get a picture with Santa for a cat," said Campbell.
Petsmart - the largest pet supply retailer in the U.S. - sponsors its annual “Santa Claws” photo event at its stores nationwide. A suggested $5 donation from the pet owners raises money for local animal welfare groups.
Under the white beard is Dan Davis, a volunteer with Lost Dog and Cat Rescue, which is receiving the donations collected at this store.
“I love the interaction, and then I see the expression on the people’s faces as well, and so it’s fun,” said Davis.
Another volunteer, Colleen Learch, brought her dogs, plus a pup she’s fostering that’s up for adoption. She said many people consider their pets as important as human family members.
“So why not let pet owners have the option of getting their pet’s picture taken with Santa? The proceeds go to help rescues like ours, and it helps us then find more homes for more dogs and cats," said Learch.
Marie Chambers, pregnant with her first child, admitted that she and her husband are obsessed with their dog, Buster.
“We just treat him like he’s our first child, really, so we do everything with him that you would kind of do with a first child, and he brings so much to our lives that it’s just really nice,” said Chambers.
Megan Ramirez said her dog, Izzy, gives her a lot of joy. “I don’t have any kids, and Izzy really is my baby. So as crazy as it sounds, I kind of want a picture of her with Santa. And I also knew it was going to go for a good cause, and they were taking donations, so we wanted to help out with that as well.”
Lost Dog and Cat Rescue takes in thousands of homeless and abandoned pets each year, many from rural areas. Some weekends, the rescue group comes to this Petsmart to show off dogs for adoption.
Quinton Brown is putting the photo of his adopted dog on Facebook. He said rescue dogs are great companions. "These dogs, they give you so much love. They don’t take you for granted. They're special ones.”
Jayn Mouzon agreed. “It’s a great thing to do because so many pets need a home to go to.”
Vanessa Garley adopted one of her dogs from Lost Dog and Cat Rescue. “He’s so cute and needed a good home.”
She’s said she’s putting photos of her two dogs on a holiday card to show her family and friends how special they are.
“We just love our animals. We love having a good time and taking them everywhere we go,” said Garley.
And like other pet parents, that includes taking them to Petsmart to get their pictures taken with Santa.