The Humane Society of Ventura County invites the community to Santa Paws, its annual holiday family photo shoot, on two upcoming Sundays.

The Ventura Beach Marriott will once again host the first Santa Paws event, on Sunday, Nov. 17; the Marriott is at 2055 E. Harbor Blvd., Ventura. The second Santa Paws event will take place on Sunday, Dec. 1, at the HSVC shelter in Ojai, at 402 Bryant St. Both events will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

At Santa Paws at the shelter on Dec. 1, guests can not only pose for family photos but also enjoy delicious baked goods at an accompanying bake sale and take part in the fundraising Tiles for Tails program hosted by Firefly Ceramics. Tiles for Tails involves participants hand-painting tiles or imprinting paw prints from their furry friends for a $25 fee, with proceeds going to the building of a new dog kennel at the HSVC.

Also, new this year, the HSVC will host an ugly sweater contest for families attending Santa Paws at the shelter. Gift certificates from Ojai Ice Cream will be awarded for the ugliest sweater for humans and their pets.

Santa Paws is the HSVC’s largest event of the year, bringing in nearly 300 families to celebrate the season by posing for professional-quality photographs with a holiday theme. The money raised at Santa Paws goes directly toward daily operations at the shelter.

Adults, children and pets are welcome in photos – with or without Santa. The shelter will provide a variety of festive costumes to doll up your pets. Pocket pets, reptiles, rabbits and birds are all welcome.

For a minimum donation of $30, guests will receive packages of five to 10 photographs provided onsite on USB flash drives. This year’s early dates will allow for plenty of time to get holiday cards out by the winter holidays.

“I love supporting the HSVC, but I really come for the great pictures of my dog and me,” said Penny Harvey, who has come to Santa Paws nearly every year since 1990.

For 34 years, the HSVC’s Santa Paws events have provided high-quality holiday family portraits for Ventura County residents and beyond.

“Santa Paws brightens our spirits every year,” said Greg Cooper, the HSVC’s director of community outreach and official photographer for the event. “It’s the most wonderful feeling, to see that holiday joy on the faces of everyone being photographed, waiting to be photographed and walking around enjoying their families, the festivities and a fun day.”

And this year, he said, “we hope they’ll do it in some truly ugly sweaters.”

Cooper credits shelter director Jolene Hoffman and the amazing efforts of shelter staff and volunteers for making this event possible each year, and he offers special thanks to Chuck Bowman “for once again providing his services as the best Santa in town.”

As a private nonprofit, the Humane Society of Ventura County relies 100% on private donations from individuals, organizations, businesses, grants and trusts. Each year, the HSVC shelter makes contact with thousands of animals through adoptions, its low-cost spay and neuter clinic, Humane Officer visits and outreach efforts, including Humane Education.

For more information on the HSVC and on the Santa Paws events, contact Cooper at GregC@HSVC.org or 805-646-6505, ext. 112.

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Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Ventura County