CARLSBAD — Just weeks before Christmas, Santa Claus will make a special stop in Carlsbad to lend a helping and jolly hand to animals in need of a loving and cheerful home.
Santa will be just one of many featured guests during the Carlsbad Village Association’s annual Pets on Parade, which combines family photos with their pets (or without), with raising money and showcasing the four-legged friends currently residing at Wagging Dog Rescue.
Christine Davis, executive director at CVA, said the annual tradition is a way for families or those looking for a loving pet to get photos with Santa.
The event runs from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Carlsbad Village Fair, 300 Carlsbad Village Drive. Photos are $30 and all proceeds from the photos and the drawing are donated to Wagging Dog.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Davis said. “Walk-ins will be taken, while space is available. This year, we are saying if people don’t have pets, that’s OK, because the more money we raise for charity, the better.”
The event has spanned years, was previously called Pups on Parade, and recently has begun to include cats and other pets getting their chance to pose with Santa. Davis said the event has blossomed into a day where 60 pets meet Santa.
And while pets are the primary focus, Davis said families without pets are also welcome to walk in and get their photos with Santa. In addition, live music, a deejay, popcorn and vendors will be part of the parade and people are donating gifts for a drawing. Those funds are donated to Wagging Dog.
“That’s how we make money for the charity,” Davis said.
Last year, Pets on Parade netted $2,200 for Wagging Dog and a total of $5,000 has been donated over the past several years, she said.
Wagging Dog is a foster-based rescued organization, founded in November 2011 by Cassandra Nuttman, according to the nonprofit’s website. She said she started the rescue because euthanasia is not a successful model for animal control, so she recruited other like-minded volunteers to help provide support.
Wagging Dogs incorporates a rigorous application process to ensure the right family adopts one of its dogs or cats, according to Heather Diamond, who is on the board of directors. Those interested must fill out an application, conduct a phone interview and participate with an in-house interview where the animal can meet the family and any other pets they may have, she added.
Currently, Wagging Dog has at least 20 animals in foster homes, although the rescue has expanded and includes cat and even had a pig at one point, Diamond said. She said they look for animals “who probably won’t have another chance” and settle them with foster homes.
Many of the animals have medical conditions, are old or have easily fixable behavioral issues. For example, Diamond adopted her dog, Supernova, who suffered from distemper, parvo and seizures.
She said it took weeks to eradicate the diseases, while the seizures slowed and now “Nova” will join Diamond at Pets on Parade.
“We get ones that aren’t the typical dogs … ,” she said. “They are ones that need work, ones that get overlooked and otherwise wouldn’t get out alive.”
The foster homes are spread throughout Southern California and provide a temporary safety net for those dogs and cats. Wagging Dogs waits until they find the right home, which could take weeks or months, Diamond said.
The end goal is to ensure a safe space for the new pet, which includes checking fencing and discussing the decompression period for the animal. Part of the process, Diamond said, is all would-be adopters undergo a two-week trial period to make sure the pet and family are a good fit.
“A lot of people don’t understand that as dogs transition … they need time to decompress,” she said. “They need time to relax and come out of their shell to show their true personality. We found it really works out best for long-term placement.”
But on Dec. 6, Wagging Dogs will be present in full force, Diamond said. In addition to Nova, they will have ambassador (already adopted) and foster dogs up for adoption on site. Also, individuals can donate toys or pick up an application to become what Wagging Dog referee to as a “forever family.”
“I love this event and I am obsessed with it,” Diamond added. “It’s just an opportunity for pet lovers to come out and do something fun. It’s our biggest fundraising event of the year and makes a tremendous difference for some of the animals we have.”