BY ISABELLA KRZYKALA AND CHRISTY JANSSENS
Pictures with Santa are not just for tiny tots. A popular trend for pet owners is to take their furry friends to snap a photo on Santa’s lap. Malls and shelters are opening their doors during the month of December to pet owners everywhere.
The demand for pet photos with Santa is often overwhelming.
“It is very popular and we actually had to turn people away,” said Claire Lomonte, one of the photographers at the pet photo booth at Burlington Mall. “It’s not ideal but we had to do it by appointment so we could fit more people in.”
Most people treat their pets as members of the family. They see the chance to have their pet photographed with Santa as a great family activity during the holidays.
John Medeirous of Burlington was one of the lucky few to snag a photo with Santa for his bullmastiff puppy, Angus. “He is a family pet. I mean you literally fall in love with them,” he said. “I have to say they are part of the family, they become part of your life why not take a picture with Santa? I think it’s like your child almost. You want to share that moment with them.”
As a pet owner Lomonte had a similar opinion. “It’s no different from bringing your child when they are first born to get a picture,” she said.
For those without pets, it may seem strange to compare a pet to a child, but owners cannot picture their family without them.
“I know it is kind of kooky because they won’t remember it, but realistically he is like our child,” said Medeirous. “We had another dog prior to this and we also took pictures with him. Now we look back and we remember all the good times. He was part of our family and he still is.”
Tom Lomonte experienced the pet photo trend from a different perspective. With a little encouragement from his wife Claire, Tom agreed to sit in as Santa Claus at Burlington Mall on Sunday night. “There is a first time for everything,” he said. “I would have never thought of doing this 20 or 30 years ago.”
Due to the popularity of pet photos, the Burlington Mall had to add another evening for people to make appointments. With the overwhelming demand, it can be hard to find Santa’s for the photo shoots. “There isn’t a pool of Santa Clauses,” said Tom Lomonte. “It’s actually quite difficult to get good Santa Clauses,” Claire Lomonte said.
After spending the evening posing with several dogs and their families, he understands why having their pets pictured with Santa is so important to them.
“It’s an extension of your family,” he said, “just like dressing your dog or cat up on Halloween. It’s the same thing. It’s about the experience. It is all about making the day special for someone.”