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Furry, feathered friends say cheese for Santa
Photos with Santa Claws helps raise needed funds for humane society
Zachary Richter helps "Santa Claws" get Zachary’s dog, Lucky, ready for his photo Friday at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. - photo by Tom Reed

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While some people are showing off pictures of their grandchildren this holiday season, pet owners like Joan Beasley and Stacy Irvin will show photos of their pooches.

Irvin said of her border collie, Sly, "He loves to have his picture made! When he sees a camera it is like he knows he is supposed to be in front of it."

"It is the most fun thing, and then it is beneficial for the humane society," added Beasley, owner of a Pekingese named Sparkey.

The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia will take photos of more than 150 local pets over the weekend, continuing from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

"Pet Pictures with Santa Claws" has become an annual event that raises money for the humane society’s spay/neuter program.

"We’ll probably raise around $3,500 this year," said Rick Aiken, humane society president.

All those involved in the event are volunteers. "We couldn’t do it without volunteers," said Bob Taylor, a volunteer helping with the pets.

And Santa has been through everything. "We have to have several Santa suits," Aiken said.

Said Santa Claws: "But they are really sweet."

The event offers owners a chance to have their pets professionally photographed. Fox Gradin has been offering her free services to the humane society for five years now. She has seen many unique animals, from mini horses to 7-foot snakes.

"There are going to be hissing beetles this year," Gradin said. "We just have to be

The event benefits more than just the animal owners.

"It is good for the staff. It really makes them feel like ‘Wow! We are doing something!’" Aiken said.

"We also have people give out dog and cat food. They like to give the animals here something for Christmas."

Many of the pets that come through are familiar faces, Aiken said. "A lot of animals we see have been adopted from here."

Walk-ins are welcome, but pet owners can make appointments by calling the office at 770-532-6617.

Customers are also encouraged to purchase a 2010 calendar for $5.

"Gradin donated her photography, and all of the animals have been here at the shelter," Aiken said.

All of the proceeds go to the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia.

"What a great Christmas gift," Santa added.