Pet pictures with Santa to help save lives of shelter animals

Two events Dec. 8-9 will raise money for emergency medical expenses

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published November 29, 2018


MADISON HEIGHTS/CLAWSON — While the city of Madison Heights budgets for the day-to-day operations of the local animal shelter, such as paying for food and water bills, it doesn’t pay for the medical expenses of the many cats and dogs in its care.

That’s why when it comes to paying for spaying/neutering or emergency surgeries, the Madison Heights Animal Shelter relies on what it brings in through donations and fundraisers.

The holiday season is a busy time for the shelter’s fundraising activities. Recently, the shelter held its first Howl-o-ween event, where people brought in their pets to the shelter yard at 801 Ajax Drive to go “trick-or-treating” around stations handing out pet treats and other goodies.

Now the shelter is gearing up for its next fundraiser, which takes place at the Madison Heights Public Library, located at 240 W. 13 Mile Road. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8. Called “Deck the Paws 2018,” it will feature photo opportunities for the family with Santa — pets included — along with a bake sale, a rummage sale with ornaments for sale, raffle prizes, and a lottery ticket and wine basket (must be 21 years or older to purchase).

Admission to the event is free, but the Santa pictures cost $5 per photo. Dogs must be on a leash at all times; cats must be in a carrier or in a harness with a leash.

“This is our second year,” said Suzette Gysel, the former animal control officer for the city of Madison Heights, now working as the administrative secretary to the police chief and deputy chief. “The first year went really well. We had a lot of fun, and a lot of people showed up. We even had a family who saw one of our flyers who had a months-old baby, and they stopped in for baby’s first picture with Santa. So it was exciting. Plus, all of the pets — the cats and dogs. We had a lot of fun, and we wanted to do it again this year.”

Justin Holland, the new animal control officer who started in October, said that the last event, Howl-o-ween, was a huge hit and brought in enough donation money to pay for the hip replacement surgery of one of the shelter’s dogs, Jagger, as well as surgery for one of the kittens, Bugsy.

At Deck the Paws, in addition to photo opportunities with Santa, Holland said people will want to check out the ornaments, which will be made in-house at a table during the event. The ornaments will be available in both red and green for $6 apiece, and each one is made from your pet’s paw print in the clay, then baked at home to create the ornament.

But the photos with Santa will be the main draw.

“There aren’t a lot of opportunities (out there) for people to take Santa pictures with their pets, so this fundraiser is the perfect opportunity to do so while supporting your local animal shelter,” Holland said. “However, you don’t have to have a pet to get your picture taken with Santa. All two-legged and four-legged family members are welcome.”

The day after Deck the Paws is another shelter fundraiser, this time at Salon Oggi, 13 S. Main St. in Clawson, from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9. Proceeds from a $20 haircut, $15 brow waxing, $15 hand polish change, and $20 eyelash extension sample ($10 per eye) will benefit both the Madison Heights Animal Shelter and another area rescue.

The money raised is instrumental to keeping the shelter animals healthy, happy and adoptable. At press time, the shelter had 16 cats and two dogs in its care.  

“Even things that sound minor, like upper respiratory infections in cats, we couldn’t treat without this money. And then they’d be suffering, and we’d have to make a choice whether to euthanize them for a cold or see if we can raise the funds to get them well and adopted,” Gysel said. “Since Justin started in October, he’s already had 15 adoptions, and those included ones who had to be treated for injuries and illnesses, plus the usual spaying/neutering and shots. All of that is covered by fundraising money.

“It truly is lifesaving,” she said. “And it not only saves the animals, but it enriches the lives of so many humans when these wonderful pets are adopted and become part of their family. It’s always great hearing how well they’re doing in their new homes.”

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