By Laura Azahar–
Santa’s lap makes room for furry friends at Feeders Supply stores. Picture Your Pet with Santa takes place annually the first two weekends in December.
Twenty-five years after the first picture was taken of Louisville area pets with Santa Claus, Feeders Supply is sponsoring the event at no charge to local adoption agencies. All Louisville stores fundraise for the Kentucky Humane Society, KHS.
Pet owners get into the spirit of Christmas not only by donating to the local shelters, but by photographing their four-legged friends. The event has gathered more than 2,500 area pets in the past three years.
Psychology professor, Dr. Lora Haynes teaches a service learning program at U of L, and one of the places students can volunteer is KHS. Haynes has personally adopted two cats and two dogs from KHS. She supports the local shelter further by taking her pets to get pose with Santa.
“The prices are definitely reasonable, and it just feels good to give back to the local shelters,” said Haynes.
The cost for a picture packet starts at $10 personalized gift items, which include mugs, ornaments and new this year, iPhone covers, start at $12. All the money raised goes directly to local homeless pet shelters, KHS in Louisville, HOPE for Pets in Bullitt County, Ky., Animal Rescue League in Floyd County, Ind., and Animal Protection Association of Clark County, Ind. Last year this event raised $50,000 for KHS, and $60,000 combined.
Erin Clephas, PR and Marketing Coordinator at KHS, considers this fundraiser to be important to keep their nearly full to capacity facilities in operation. The main and east campuses, combined with the seven out of 14 Feeders Supply stores that keep animals, hold a max of 300 altogether.
“We bring the community together to do something fun, while they help us keep doing what we do every day,” Clephas said, “The funds go toward our mission to keep our clinic open and the homeless animals sheltered.”
Man’s best friends don’t always have four-legs with a wagging tails. Ashley Aldridge, assistant manager at the Feeders Supply on Springhurst, has worked at the store for eight years. During this event she has seen everything, cats, dogs, rats, horses, goats and even a boa constrictor have sat on Santa’s lap. The oddness does not stop there. Participants even dress them up in costumes.
“Pet owners are a whole other breed,” Aldridge said, “They are getting a photo that they love. People get really excited about bringing their animals in for Santa. They will put a Santa hat and beard on them, or they will dress them as elves — people really get into it.”
Some of the excited customers are students like Ali Serrano, a sophomore communications major, who is not only taking her new puppy to smile before the camera, but also volunteers at the event. She plans to put a jingle bell collar on her 10-month-old lab retriever-ridgeback mix.
“I want to document Delilah’s first Christmas,” said Serrano, “I mean, I could take a picture myself of her dressed up, but this way there will be a Santa, and I get to help homeless dogs.”
As a local business, Feeders Supply provides a variety of accessories for area pets to look their best with Santa. The stores are offering a $5 off coupon for in-store purchases with any picture package purchase.
Three years ago, American Express named the day after Black Friday small Business Saturday. And this year Giving Tuesday was promoted the day after Cyber Monday. By going to the Picture Your Pet with Santa event customers support both local business and charity.
KHS is a private, non-profit welfare agency. To keep the 125 year organization running, it needs help from the community to keep its doors open for orphaned pets. Volunteers are a main source of aid for the agencies. This event alone calls for over 600 volunteers to participate in assisting with photography and registration. Even the Santa Clauses are unpaid helpers.
Picture Your Pets with Santa is providing a Furry Christmas to all the pets participating and the ones that are in shelters this holiday season.
For information on how to get involved with Picture Your Pet with Santa or volunteering at KHS, contact the volunteer coordinator at 502-515-3145, or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: Andrew Nathan/The Louisville Cardinal