By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
Excited barks echoed through the Riverfront Center in the city of Amsterdam Saturday as the Montgomery County SPCA Holiday Pet Photo event kicked off.
Dogs, and a few cats, of all different shapes, sizes, and colors, waited anxiously to get their picture taken with Santa Claus and their families throughout the afternoon.
Some of the dogs were dressed in brand new bandanas and sweaters; others were dressed in elf costumes and Santa hats.
And their owners had specks of holiday cheer on their attire for their family photo.
“This is fantastic,” said MCSPCA board member Dawn Guarino about the turnout at the event. “The vendors are great, and we haven’t seen this many (people) before.”
Guarino started on the board five years ago, the year the MCSPCA first held their tiny Holiday Pet Photo event in the old jewelry store in the Riverfront Center.
“We had live kittens in the store window,” she recalled, laughing.
But now, five years later, the event has grown in to more than just photos with Santa.
Vendors of all kinds lined the bottom floor of the mall.
Two large train displays were up and running for the kids – and dogs – to watch as they circled their tracks.
Adoptable cats sat in a few large cages purring against the passers-by who would stop and pet them.
And vendor upon vendor sold everything from dog collars and dog sweaters to hats, scarves, jewelry, and candles for the owners.
All of the proceeds of the day would go to the MCSPCA for their big project: a new shelter.
Becky Smith, Director of Community Relations and Development for the Schenectady County SPCA, spoke about the need while waiting in line with her pups Maggie and Sydney and Schenectady County SPCA Peace Officer Tami van Valkenburgh.
Because the Schenectady chapter doesn’t have a shelter, Smith said many of the dogs and cats they get they have to go to Montgomery County’s chapter, but the shelter just doesn’t have the room.
“Our groups support each other,” Smith said. “They really need the funds.”
This is why the fundraisers are so critical, Guarino said.
“We’d come to find dogs tied to the porch and boxes of kittens, and we just don’t have the room to accommodate them,” Guarino said.
Their current building is old and broken down, she added, and they have a waiting list for people to surrender their animals to the shelter.
“We need this for the animals.”
Kris Berner, there with 7-year-old Emmett, both of them in the therapy sector, said she brought Emmett because he loves Santa, but she also came to support the MCSPCA.
“It’s exciting that they’re rebuilding,” she said.
Pictures with Santa continued throughout the afternoon and will continue Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., along with the vendors, in the Riverfront Center in Amsterdam.