It’s still a couple of weeks until Christmas, but Santa Claus has already been spotted here in Tuscaloosa. He’s making a couple of early stops to give love to his four-legged friends, all for a good cause.

Pet Supplies Plus on McFarland Boulevard is a big and busy pet store. But this week, back in the back corner of the store, Santa is making a special visit to meet and greet folks who want a picture of him with their pets. It’s a special event that the Humane Society of West Alabama has been doing for years.

“We think it’s been about 13 years,” volunteer Betty Freeman said. “We’ve been at different locations but we’ve been down at Pet Supplies Plus, I’m thinking, for about eight years.”

Sometimes children and babies do not like to cooperate when getting their photos made with the Big Man. Fur babies can make that task even harder. For example, when Lauren Sanders showed up with her three dogs, it was not looking like she was going to be able to get them to sit still long enough for a good picture.

But right on cue, the dogs did what they were told, and Sanders got just the picture she had hoped for. She said the annual visit is just one way she shares a special bond with her dogs.

“Just talking about it makes me really happy,” she said. “Coming home, just seeing how they’re happy makes me happy. They just make every day so great.”

Some people may join in on the fun as they pick up their pet food and accessories, while others look forward to the event all year.

“It’s a fun event for people to do with their pets, a way to bond with them and have something fun for them,” Sanders said. “And for some, it’s a family tradition, we hear. So, we love it, it’s a lot of fun.”

And of course, the experience benefits more than the Society. Even Santa said he wouldn’t miss it for anything.

“Yes, it’s a lot of fun,” Santa said. “I enjoy the animals of all types. I have three cats myself.”

As we move through the Christmas season and into a new year, Freeman wants to remind people that forever homes are always needed.

“Well, the key is spay and neuter and adopt don’t shop,” Freeman said. “We just encourage people, there are so many homeless animals in our area, in our community and because of that that’s why the more we can get adopted, the more we can pull out of Metro Animal Shelter, the more animals we can save in our area.”

WVUA 23’s own Mike Royer can vouch for the folks at the Humane Society of West Alabama, as his two pups Chester and Lucy both were adopted from the Society. Both were featured at separate times a few years ago on WVUA 23’s Pet of the Week segment, and Royer said he could not resist.

“I recommend you go by and look at them and maybe adopt a pet this Christmas season and take them by for a picture with Santa,” he said. “That’s the Spirit of Alabama.”

If you have someone you’d like us to feature in our Spirit of Alabama reports, email us at spiritofalabama@wvua23.com.

Categories: Archives, Local News, Spirit of Alabama