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Area pets sit down with 'Santa Claws'

POSTED: November 16, 2013 11:49 p.m.

Santa Claws warmly greeted “Little Red” by name Saturday morning when owner Carolee Gailey brought the jauntily-dressed, ruddy dachshund into the makeshift photo studio at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia.

Santa and Red have a history that goes beyond their 10th consecutive holiday portrait.

“I was holding him and he got excited and did a number all over my arm,” Gailey said.

The annual Pet Photos with Santa Claws continues from 1 to 5 p.m. today. At $30 per session, the shelter hopes to raise the usual $2,000 total after the two days’ sessions, shelter director of development and marketing Julie Edwards said.

“The first hour is booked solid,” she said, “The best time (for walk-ins) is 2 to 5.”

Gailey had two dachshunds in tow. Speckles, a shelter rescue dog just as was Red 10 years ago, also was festively dressed for the occasion. A recent rescue, it was Speckles’ first time with Santa Claws.

“They don’t normally wear clothes, so they’re not too happy,” Gailey said. “They make good Christmas cards.”

Photographer and local artist Fox Gradin remembers Little Red, too, although not quite for the same reason as Santa Claws, known as retiree Ron Gregory all other days of the year. Gradin and Gregory have worked together for several years at the Humane Society, but Gregory’s history as Santa Claws goes back to 1993.

Other pet owners signed in, some with three or more dogs. David Lawrence and Laura McCreary, a married couple from Dawsonville, arrived with their three dogs Mindy, Moe and Shep, each represented by stick figures on their car’s rear window.

Jeff and Heather Chandler brought Dickens, a 13-year-old spotted dauschund, and two new kittens in a carrier, Scratch and Sniff. It was Dickens’ 13th portrait.

The shelter depends on donations of money and supplies to operate, with money from the holiday photos going toward general operating expenses, Edwards said. The photo fundraiser usually draws 60 to 70 paying customers, she said.

The shelter currently needs hand towels and bath towels as they transition from newspapers to line kennels, Edwards said. Its website, www.humanesocietyofnortheastgeorgia.org, displays a “wish list” link for donated items.

To make a portrait appointment, call 770-532-6617, extension 233 or email JulieEdwards@HSNEGA.org.


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