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Paws for a photo with Santa

Holidays: Local nonprofit group that offers low-cost spay/neuter vouchers raises funds through annua

Posted: November 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Allan Cameron, a board member of Pet Assistance of Santa Clarita Valley, poses with two dogs during the annual Photos with Santa fundraiser for the organization.

Playing Santa for Pet Assistance’s annual photos with Santa over the last 20 years has landed some interesting creatures on Allan Cameron’s lap.

While it’s mostly dogs and cats that come for their close-up, Cameron has also been paired with chinchillas, bunnies, birds, snakes, potbellied pigs and even big, hairy spiders.

“The one that intrigued me most was a tarantula, about 6 inches across. The owners wanted to put it on my beard,” Cameron said. “I went for it. Anything for Pet Assistance.”

The nonprofit Pet Assistance of Santa Clarita Valley provides low-cost spay/neuter vouchers good at veterinary offices throughout north Los Angeles County.

Pet photos with Santa, one of the organization’s largest fundraising events, will take place this year at Saugus’ Pet Supply, on Dec. 3 and Saturday Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Photos start at $10 for a 5-by-7-inch print. Pet Assistance offers packages that can include larger prints, wallet-size photos, coffee mugs, holiday cards and more. Digital images are previewed during the event, where orders are placed, and then processed in a high-quality lab. Orders take about a week to fulfill.

“We shamelessly try to induce people to spend their money because it all goes to Pet Assistance, which has no paid staff or facility overhead, only a telephone,” said Cameron, who’s a board member for the organization. “Every single cent someone spends goes to animal welfare.”

Photography is provided by Pet Assistance volunteers Bruce and Zo Ann McFarland.

“I’m just a prop. The people who really work hardest in doing this is the photo crew. Zo Ann will do anything imaginable to get the shot, like crawling on the floor, while Bruce makes sure the photos are impeccable. He edits them until they’re really good,” Cameron said. “We also have to give credit to Pet Supply, who allow us to move fixtures around and set up backdrops. They don’t charge us anything or take a piece of the revenue stream. They do it because they support Pet Assistance.”

As Santa, Cameron has had to deal with the occasional sick or nervous pet, but for the vast majority of the time, the event is an affirmative experience.

“It’s obvious that the animals really love their families and the families love their animals and I’m honored to be included in that,” he said. “People come in and delight in telling everyone about their animal, where they found them. Particularly people that rescued a dog or cat, they’re always pleased to make a positive difference in their animal’s life.”

Unfortunately, many homeless pets in America never find a family, which is why Pet Assistance’s services are so important, according to Cameron.

“If you want to have your heart broken, go to a shelter in Southern California. No animal should be brought into the world without a home ready and available,” he said. “To spend millions of dollars annually to slaughter millions of animals in shelters is a preventable tragedy. It has to be stopped.”

Pet Photos with Santa to benefit Pet Assistance of Santa Clarita Valley, Dec. 3 and Dec. 10, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Pet Supply, 26831 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. For more information, visit


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