Christmas pet photos: Santa Paws at the Humane Society

Dec 7, 2019

Anyone visiting the Humane Society and Shelter SouthCoast in North Dartmouth on Saturday would have seen an unusual sight: Dogs and cats dressed up for the holidays with their families, posing for photos with Santa Claus.

It’s an annual event run by the shelter as a fundraiser and a way to celebrate Christmas and community.

Families donated $15 for a photo, with photographer Nicole Costa of Dartmouth volunteering her time to squeak toys, yelp, and make other noises to get the animals to look at her camera.

Animal owners chatted as they lined the walls of the shelter’s training room, which was decorated for the occasion.

“It’s a great turnout so far,” said shelter director Melinda Ventura. “A lot of our alumnae, which is great to see. We have a lot of them come back and take pictures year after year.”

Judi Grimley of New Bedford was accompanying her sister, Eileen Raposa of Dartmouth, to get a photo with Raposa’s two dogs.

Kramer the beagle and Cody the lab mix are both rescues from the Humane Society in Dartmouth.

Grimley also has two dogs of her own, and said that all four dogs came from the Ventura Drive shelter.

“I kind of like the way they do the adoption process here,” Grimley said. “They check out your references, and they’ve been around a long time.”

She added that she and her husband donate regularly to the shelter. “They took care of our dogs in their time of need,” she said with a smile.

Midnight the cat is 19 years old.

Owner Christina Amaral of New Bedford adopted her from the old Animal Rescue League in New Bedford seventeen years ago.

“She’s deaf, and she’s got dementia,” Amaral said. “She gets disoriented when it’s dark, and when she tries to leave the room. She cries during the night.”

When they first rescued her from the shelter, Amaral explained, “She was abused, and she didn’t like men. And now she loves everybody!”

Crystal Fonteneau brought two rabbits, Calliope and Lafayette, and cat Leo for a family photo with her daughter, 13-year-old Jenney Lutz. 

One of the rabbits, Lafayette, is from the shelter, and the other two were rescued from elsewhere.

“Leo’s being good right now,” she said, stroking the kitty as he watched the activity with wide blue eyes. “He wants attention on his terms, and right now he’s getting it.”

Even though she has three animals, Fonteneau said, she might not stop there.

“Actually, I was thinking about adopting another,” she admitted. “A rabbit. Because there’s another Angora over there in Methuen.”

Puppy Penny Grace was adopted from the Dartmouth shelter, and took a while to settle down for a photo because her best friend Ruby, a 7-month-old black lab, was waiting in line at the side of the room. 

“She wanted to play,” said owner Sara Gage of Dartmouth. “She was very excited. It’s exciting!”

Penny Grace is turning one year old the day after Christmas. “She’s not graceful,” Gage said with a mock grimace.

Gage continued, “I did [photos with Santa] years and years ago with my former dog Scout, who was from here too. I’ve adopted both my dogs from here.”

She said she loves the Dartmouth shelter. “They’re awesome here. They really are,” she said. “They do special things like this, they follow up with you, they ask for pictures...It’s above and beyond. It’s not just a shelter.”