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Fido can get a photo with Santa, too: Pet Assistance Foundation offers holiday pet photos

Posted: November 29, 2009 10:55 p.m.
Updated: November 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Becca Kadzoy, 14, right, gives Savanah, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, to Cameron he prepares to have his photo taken with her and 1-year-old Cooper.

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Savanah was apparently quite excited to see Santa for the first time. Although the 12-week-old puppy initially had trouble staying put in the bearded man's lap, Savanah came to her visit with a couple of requests.

"She needs a grooming table and some treats for Christmas," said the dog's owner Bruce Ambrose, of Saugus.

It took a few tries but the clanking sound of a bell finally got the pup's attention as a volunteer photographer quickly captured a picture of Santa and Savanah.

Savanah, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was one of several animals with their masters Saturday at Pet Photos with Santa, the Pet Assistance Foundation of the Santa Clarita Valley's primary fundraiser of the year.

Many pet owners planned to use the photos, taken at Pet Supply in Saugus, for holiday greeting cards.

"These are our kids now that our other kids are gone," Ambrose said. "So it'll make a good Christmas card."

Eleven volunteers contributed to the day's operations from squeezing play toys to get the animals' attention to cutting and editing photos.

"I started this with just a Polaroid about 16 years ago," said Linda Furlano, Pet Assistance treasurer. "Now (these volunteers) have come and made it so much better."

The Pet Assistance League is dedicated to helping those who are unable to afford spay and neuter services for their animals.

"We work with vets who are willing to lower their costs," said volunteer Zoe-Anne Fitzhugh. "Between us and the Pet Assistance' larger chapter, we're able to get spay and neutering costs down significantly."

Spay and neutering helps control animal over-population, Fitzhugh said. The goal is not to put conscientious breeders out of business, she added.

"Spay and neutering means (animals) are healthier to begin with, it reduces the numbers that end up in pounds or rescue organizations and it gives animals already here a chance to find homes," Fitzhugh said.

Pet Photos with Santa typically raises around $800 to $1,000 for the organization, she said.

Australian Shepherds Buster, Koda and Shelby surprised the volunteers with their calm demeanor, posture and smiles as they posed with Santa.

"Some are happy, some are acquiescent to the experience, others are curious," said Allan Cameron, also known as the Pet Assistance's veteran Santa Claus.

While mostly dogs showed up on Saturday, Cameron has taken photos with an array of animals including cats, parrots, rabbits, turtles, iguanas and a potbellied pig.

"My most memorable was a black tarantula that ended up in my beard," he said.

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