There is a series of efforts afoot aimed at offering hope to shelter animals in Maple Ridge during the holidays.
Katie's Place, for instance, kicked off the season with pet photos with Santa on Sunday.
For those who missed this past weekend's event, don't despair. The next photo session is set for Sunday, Dec. 9, again back at Bosley's, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"It's fabulous. Bosley's is always very supportive, and they even hand out goodie bags for all the pets that come in," explained Evelyn Baillie, Katie's Place vice-president and a long-time volunteer.
"All pets are welcome. besides the cats and dogs, we've had rabbits, birds of prey, hamsters, reptiles, guinea pigs, and horses. they're all so much fun," Baillie said, noting that their team of volunteers sees about 150 to 170 animals over the two days.
All funds raised from the pet photos with Santa are critical to the shelter's operation, she elaborated, noting that this annual fundraiser generates about $1,500 to $2,000 a year.
It is the largest single fundraiser of the year for the Jackson Road cat shelter that is currently near capacity with about 120 cats and kittens in care at the shelter or in foster homes.
Katie's Place celebrated its 11th anniversary in October and has rescued thousands of animals since opening in 2001.
"Come to visit Santa Claus. with your BFF (best furry friend)" and help other needy animals in the community at the same time, Baillie said
About half a dozen Katie's Place volunteers come together to host these photo events each year, and Baillie said it's never hard to find people to help.
"We all love the animals, and we get to see how much so many other people love their animals too," she said, noting it's often a stark contrast to the situations and people they deal with at the shelter every day.
"It just goes to show that people really do love their animals and want them to be part of their family at Christmas," Baillie said.
The Katie's Place photo sessions are by donation, with most people offering $10 or more for two 4X6 prints that are available for pickup the next weekend.
This year, they're also introducing email options for pictures, noting "all of the money goes directly to help the animals with things like vet bills."