NEW PORT RICHEY — Santa gets lots of routine requests this time of year, perhaps classics like a fire truck or a dolly — or something a bit hipper, like the newest iPhone.
But how about a big beef bone or a squeaky toy?
The latter sort was more likely on the Christmas wish list at the SPCA Suncoast Dec. 8, where the nonprofit animal welfare group held a fundraising Pet Pictures with Santa event.
Pet owners brought their pets, mostly dogs, to the shelter to pose with Santa, who arrived on his motorcycle to greet the awaiting crowd.
“How are you, little one?” the Jolly Old Elf asked a small, long-haired pooch waiting outside the shelter. The dog looked confused but managed a tiny tail wag just the same.
The photo-op for pups was the first staged by the SPCA shelter, said Justin Edwards, shelter manager. Participants could pay $5 for a photo, a paw print artwork or a pet pedicure. The shelter also sold pet goody bags. The money will be used to help fund the shelter, which houses up to about 20 dogs and an equal number of cats at any given time.
The public can visit the SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress St., from noon until 6 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, to pick out a pet to adopt.
“Adoption is always the goal,” said Edwards. “This event isn’t about making big bucks, it’s about getting people out here to hopefully adopt and take a pet home with them.”
It worked. By the time Santa arrived, two dogs already had been adopted out, said Edwards. He added that there is plenty of time before Christmas for anyone looking to make a gift of a dog or cat.