Pet column: Santa Paws is coming to town |

Pet column: Santa Paws is coming to town

Dawn Armstrong
Special to the Tribune

Santa Paws will arrive at the City of South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center at 11 a.m. Saturday for the 27th Annual Photo Benefit for local Tahoe animals in need. Pets and people will fill the halls, along with Mobile DJ Dona Baxter’s holiday music. Any social companion animal — such as cats, dogs and parrots — on leash or in a carrier is eligible to have a photo taken with the unique-to-Tahoe Santa Paws dog character.

The 2014 Tahoe Pets Calendar will be released and available for the first time. It’s a Tahoe showcase filled with photos of Tahoe pets doing their thing in favorite local spots. Dan Slater’s DVD, “The Dogs Who Saved Christmas Day,” will be available for purchase. In addition to the story song “The Dogs Who Saved Christmas Day,” it features original tunes like “4 Paw Drive” and “It’s a Dog Gone Party” performed on the train and slide at the historic amusement park. The calendar and DVD also can be ordered from

Kids, pets and people get over their shyness when they get a look at Santa Paws. Tense pets are treated gently and given as long as it takes to meet the Santa under the costume and start “smiling” on cue. Each group poses for multiple shots. For a $20 cash or check donation, participants will receive a photo CD with pictures which can be used for greeting cards or email attachments or for prints at a photo counter. Participants will also receive a raffle ticket for a drawing including the famous Freshie’s 4th of July Private Deck Party, Heavenly Gondola ticket and food certificates, T-shirts and more prizes.

The event debuted at what is now the an art gallery next to the Lake Tahoe Historical Museum. The one-of-a-kind Santa Paws suit was made by a volunteer for the Lake Tahoe Humane Society. Polaroid photos were taken and given out on the spot, complete with cardboard frames. In the early ‘90s the photos were taken on film and 5-inch-by-7-inch prints were donated by a local photo shop. Now that the photos are digital, participants can have inexpensive prints made anywhere or manipulate them at home as they wish from their disk.

For spectators, the event is a reality show about the human-animal bond. Waiting in line is actually fun. Photos are taken from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bows and antlers are provided for those without accessories. Donations of dry dog and cat food and cat litter are encouraged to stock the community pet food bank. This is a year around resource for pet families in need as well as for disaster relief.

The Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization celebrating almost 50 years of service to the pets and people of Greater Lake Tahoe. There is no national humane society or society for the prevention of cruelty to animals or agency to help local Tahoe animals. Tahoe pets depend on Tahoe people. For more information, call 530-542-2857 or visit

— Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.” Dawn Armstrong is the executive director.

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