The Washington Humane Society got some help from a familiar figure this year, as the Christmas holidays approached. The Humane Society is the only open-access animal shelter in the Nation's Capital, and cares for nearly 30,000 animals a year. It recently invited Washingtonians to photograph their pets with Santa Claus, in exchange for a charitable contribution. Dozens of proud dog owners showed up to help animals and those who care for them in the shelters.
At first sight, this fashionable clothing store in Washington looks like any other retail outlet. But then, you notice its unusual customers. On any other day of the year this dog probably would not be allowed inside. But today Amy is a welcome guest here. She is on a special mission. She is meeting Santa Claus.
For the photo of Amy with Santa, Amy's owner will donate $20 to the Washington Humane Society. Tara de Nicolas organized the event, and says more than 180 people agreed to come and make a donation. The store, Vineyard Vines, will also donate 10 percent of its revenue from the event back to the Humane Society. The organizers hope to raise thousands of dollars to help fund the Society's programs.
"The Washington Humane Society is a tremendous organization," said Tara de Nicolas. "It's the only open-access shelter in the Nation's Capital and cares for 30,000 animals a year. Homeless, lost, abused, neglected, wild life. They do it all. They do a low-cost neutering program. We have a big center in the city. We have two shelters. We do all humane law enforcement. It's an incredibly vast organization that does a majority of the work in our community.
Once their owners fill out a form and make a donation, the dogs get to go and meet Santa. And in addition to the photo session, they get tasty treats and are allowed to socialize with the other guests.
One of the Humane Society's major efforts is an adoption program for homeless dogs and cats. And in fact, most of the dogs at this event have been adopted. Like this poodle, Whisper. Cindy Tsai, his new owner, adores him.
"He has friends in California, that's where we adopted him. So he is going to have his pictures sent to California too," said Tsai.
Cindy believes the story of Whisper will inspire other people to adopt pets from shelters. Santa Claus also wants people to help.
"At this season especially, a lot of these people are helping other and a lot of these people are giving love," said Santa. "But you know, as much as we give, we can give just a little bit to the animals, but we are going to get a lot of love, unconditional love."
As these Christmas pictures go around the globe as holiday greeting cards, it is clear these dogs are in good hands, and that their owners care about them. The Washington Humane Society believes the magic of Christmas will help other dogs that are in shelters to find new loving families.