Crowd for Paws and Claus

Dec. 08, 2013 @ 04:26 PM

Another Christmas tradition to add to the list is having the furriest member of the family’s photo taken with Santa during Paws and Claus.

Sunday’s cold, wet weather did not deter many from going out to Northgate Mall to have their pets’ pictures taken with Santa.
From 1 to 6 p.m. the line for photos included children but was also dotted with the barks and wagging tails of dogs and gentle meows of cats.
“A lot of people in this world only have their pets so they treat them like they would children,” said Allison Savicz, Northgate Mall representative and volunteer with Independent Animal Rescue. “Dogs especially are really good about coming out and getting their photos taken.”
Northgate partnered with Independent Animal Rescue for this year’s Paws and Claus event, with all of the net proceeds from the photos going to IAR. Part of the proceeds of the pictures of children taken with Santa also went to IAR.
Four-and-a-half-year-old Lillian Odzak and her family dog, Teddy Kennedy, had their picture taken with Santa. On either side of Saint Nick in his big green chair, Odzak and Teddy smiled for the camera.
“It’s been a tradition we’ve been doing for the last four years,” said Lillian’s father, Josip Odzak.
Odzak said that his daughter has come to love her annual picture with Santa and that Teddy, their adopted dog, has always been very well-behaved.
Independent Animal Rescue is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1994 to rescue and provide safe and responsible care for homeless, abandoned and abused animals.
All of the donations to IAR go to support animal care and rehabilitation. There are currently 200 cats and 50 dogs in IAR foster care homes. This year alone, IAR has helped to spay/neuter about 1,500 animals.
IAR is one of several organizations that has partnered with Northgate, Savicz said, citing collaborations with the Salvation Army, Durham Rescue Mission and Urban Ministries of Durham for the mall’s Charity Trees.
“Northgate is a locally owned mall so a lot of what the administration here does directly impacts the local community,” Savicz said. “This is also a good way to support animal groups and to help an organization that does a lot or the community.”
Stephanie Getchell was in line with her 10-month-old poodle, Arie, waiting to see Santa. Taking breaks in Getchell’s arms, Arie spent most of her time in line entertaining the children in front of and behind her.
“She’s a puppy and I wanted to get something done with her while she’s still young,” Getchell said. “She loves people and dogs. She has no fear. She just gets so excited.”
Wayne and Ann Walker were also in line to see Santa with their 2-year-old poodle Sassie in tow.
“It’s something we always do,” Ann said. “She does pretty good (with people).”
Sylvia Grant and her dog, 2-year-old Cozy, were dolled up in their holiday fashions to take pictures with Santa. With Grant in her red sweater with white collar and Cozy with her glitter poinsettia on her collar, the two were full of the holiday spirit.
“It’s my Christmas tradition,” Grant said. “It’s part of my Christmas decoration. It’s just so special.”