When a local rescue organization had me do a flyer for Santa photos at a different location in town and not the usual PetSmart location because they could no longer participate in this fundraiser, I started doing some research to see if this is a national change with PetSmart and unfortunately it is.
For years, rescue groups who adopt out of PetSmart (and some who don’t) were able to come in and do “Santa Photos” for a few weekends in December at PetSmart. The logistics often varied – sometimes PetSmart had a Santa suit, sometimes they didn’t; usually PetSmart provided the camera and printer but not always; hours changed; rules changed; what kind of photos allowed (digital or prints) changed… but what didn’t change was that the rescue groups were able to use this as a fundraiser every year, providing volunteer Santas and elves to bring good cheer to local PetSmart shoppers, introduce them to their organization and receive donations to help save more cats and dogs. The Santa photos were a collaboration between PetSmart and the local rescue groups, as PetSmart Charities received money from the fundraiser as well in the form of selling photo frames with the picture package.
Many groups are now scrambling to find other locations to take their photos, making this year’s Santa Photos into a competition between pet owners having pet photos taken at PetSmart, benefitting the corporation, or getting the photos done with a local rescue group if the organization is able to find a new location.
When I contacted the public relations department at PetSmart about the change, they said, “We have changed a few things this year to better meet the changing needs of our pet parents. While associates in each store are now taking the photos, there’s still a charitable component in the picture frames available for purchase.” They are offering the digital photos for free and selling a holiday frame for $7.95, with only 10% of those proceeds going to PetSmart Charities. Although those proceeds will go to adoption and spay/neuter programs across the country, a donation of less than 80¢ per frame, when bought, is far less than the approximate $5 (plus any additional donations) that would go to the local rescue group and the $4.98 that went to PetSmart in previous years.
Locally, in Traverse City, these are the Santa Photos that are scheduled for your pets that the rescue groups and animal shelter are hosting:
Traverse City – AC PAW
Saturday, November 29th, 11 am to 3 pm
Saturday, December 6th, 11 am to 3 pm
Sunday, December 7th, 11 am to 3 pm
Saturday, December 13th, 11 am to 3 pm
AC PAW Photos with Santa Paws
1420 S. Airport Road, Traverse City
Bring in your dogs, cats, bunnies and other photogenic pets. For $5, you will get a digital print on the AC PAW Shutterfly account and one small 4×6″ print to take home. Additional prints or larger prints are available for an extra fee (donation to AC PAW).
Traverse City – Handds to the Rescue
Saturday, December 13th, 11 am to 3 pm
Saturday, December 20th, 11 am to 3 pm
Pictures with Santa
Benefitting Handds to the Rescue
Traverse City Tractor Supply,
825 US-31 South, Traverse City
All pets are invited. Kids too! Proceeds go to Handds to the Rescue. $5 for online photo / $8 for online photo and print. For more info. call Patti at 645-6040.
Traverse City – Cherryland Humane Society
Sunday, December 7th, noon to 4 pm
Santa Paws/Open House Event
Cherryland Humane Society,
1750 Ahlberg Rd., Traverse City
The public is invited to have their pets’ pictures taken with Santa Claus for a donation of $10 per picture. Prizes will be awarded for cutest, largest, smallest, most unusual and best costumed pet. Tours of the facility and complimentary refreshments are also offered. Each guest is invited to register for free door prizes. Proceeds benefit the work of the Cherryland Humane Society. Please call 946-5116 for more info.