Dogs pose with ‘Santa Paws’ at Humane Society fundraiser

Dec 9, 2023

It’s official—Santa Claus is a dog person.

On Saturday, Dec. 9, dogs of all breeds and sizes filed into the Humane Society on Ventura Drive to get their pictures taken with the jolly man in red.

Owners brought their dogs, many of whom were adopted from the shelter, to pose for tail-wagging photographs with Santa and Mrs. Claus for a dog-themed fundraiser to raise money and awareness for the shelter.

“Animals need a voice, and this event encourages people to think about animals,” said Karen Maciulewicz, who has volunteered at the shelter for 30 years. “It’s rewarding to know that we’re saving lives and providing forever homes.”  

The event included a raffle with the chance to win a variety of gift baskets filled to the brim with everything from candy to lottery tickets.

The shelter will announce the raffle winners at a drawing on Dec. 16 at 4 p.m.

The money raised will go toward caring for the shelter pets and buying essential supplies like pet food, formula for baby kittens, cleaning products and whatever else a shelter needs to care for all kinds of animals ranging from guinea pigs to cats to parrots.

Among the dogs to sit on Santa’s lap was Scout, who traveled all the way to Dartmouth from a foster home in Louisiana before Kelsey Letourneau adopted her from the shelter in 2022.

She has a “unique, happy-go-lucky personality” Letourneau said of Scout, who recently chewed up some of the branches on the Christmas tree at home, an incident that may land Scout on the naughty list this year.

Pam Robinson, founder and director of It’s All About the Animals, an animal shelter based in Rochester, said events like this raise awareness for the less fortunate and unhoused animals in our communities.

“Animals don’t have a voice,” Robinson said. “They need advocates. So many of these animals are being dumped out. It’s heartbreaking. We do what we can.”

To reduce the number of stray dogs and cats, Robinson encourages people to spay and neuter their pets and to adopt rather than buy puppies and kittens. Not only is adopting a shelter dog less expensive than a Christmas puppy, but shelter pets come with a clean bill of health, having received extensive veterinary care, which not all breeders provide.  

Shelter employee Krystle Mastera has a passion for all animals without preference. Dogs, cats, ducks, chickens — she loves them all. While some fortunate dogs have only ever known the luxury of having a home, shelter pets know what it’s like to lose a home, Mastera explained.

“There’s so many of them just sitting in kennels,” she said. “These animals know what a home is, but now they’re stuck without homes.”

Volunteers are always welcome at the shelter, and plenty of dogs and cats are currently available for adoption this holiday season.