ALEXANDRIA, Ky. -- A professional photo of your pet with Santa Claus is cute. When that photo can help other animals stay alive, it's something much more.
When Santa is at K&M Feed in Alexandria from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday to pose for those photos, that will be the case. The event is meant to raise awareness of and funds for ROSA’S (Rescue Our Shelter Animals and Strays), a Northern Kentucky nonprofit dedicated to finding homes for adoptable dogs and cats that have been placed in shelters or abandoned.
“All types of pets are welcome, not just dogs and cats,” said ROSA’S founder Kate Zink who said past photo shoots have included roosters, skunks, ferrets, lambs and horses. “And families are encouraged to be in the photos, too. It can be a real family portrait.”
Proceeds from the photos -- which range from $7 for a 4-by-6 print to $20 for a CD with all of the photos -- will be used to pay the organization’s mounting veterinary bills and to buy supplies needed to stock foster homes for animals. While the donations are desperately needed, finding people willing to foster animals while they await to be adopted is also crucial. ROSA’S is accepting applications for foster families.
“It’s quite a rich reward when you see the smile on the faces of the children and families of those who find their forever pet and you know you made it happen,” said Zink who founded the organization in 2003 after taking in numerous shelter pets on her own. “Knowing how many pets don’t make it to forever homes, I knew we needed to something on a larger scale.”
Zink and her staff of volunteers rescue strays as well as animals from the local animal shelters. Taking animals out of the hands of the shelters ensures they aren’t euthanized and that the shelters have room for additional animals.
“We can use all of the rescues that we can get,” said Lisa Bowman, director of the Campbell County Animal Shelter, which recently adopted a no-kill policy. “It is especially important now that the rescues pull from us. Now that we’re keeping everything, we are overcrowded. Rescues pulling animals opens that cage for something else.”
ROSA’s offers training and supplies to all of those willing to open their homes to foster pets. The animals in foster care are listed for adoption on the organization’s website. Foster home placements typically last three to six months.
Those coming to the weekend's Santa photo shoots are asked to keep their pets on a leash or in a crate to assure they are on their best behavior. According to Zink, many people use the photos for their Christmas cards.
“Just show up with you heart and compassion and genuinely care for every living creature,” Zink said. “It is sad walking into shelters that are too busy and overcrowded. Let’s give all animals a home for the holidays.”