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Santa Paws pictures raise money for Spay/Neuter/Now

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POTSDAM — Santa and Mrs. Claus came to town this weekend to help raise money for Spay/Neuter/Now, a nonprofit organization based in Hammond with a mission to reduce pet overpopulation in St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties.

Families with dogs, cats and children were able to get photos with Santa at Agway, 14 Pine St., for $10 donations as part of the annual “Santa Paws” fundraiser. The photos were taken by Genine Gehret, a photographer from DeKalb Junction.

“We’re trying to get the message out about how terribly important spay and neutering is,” Spay/Neuter/Now founder Beatrice D. Schermerhorn said.

Ms. Schermerhorn said the organization is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, but has been doing the annual picture day at Agway for about 10 years.

“They’ve been very gracious and allowed us to use their space,” she said.

Jill M. Rice and Mary P. Lunderman brought their dog, Josie, to get her picture taken with Santa.

“She doesn’t bark. She’s quiet, she’s very well-mannered and has everybody trained,” Ms. Rice said.

Ms. Rice said they just got the boxer-greyhound from the Potsdam Humane Society on Nov. 29.

“Our old dog died and we just couldn’t live without a dog,” Ms. Lunderman said.

Monica L. Scott and her husband, Aaron P., brought their 3-year-old daughter, Maeleigh R., to visit Santa on Saturday. Mrs. Scott said Maeleigh had been asking to see Santa.

“It’s a good cause, plus she gets to see Santa, so it’s a win-win situation,” Mrs. Scott said.

Spay/Neuter/Now has a mobile clinic in which it performs both cat and dog spaying and neutering at a low cost.

“So far this year we’ve spayed and neutered over 1,000 cats and dogs, and we include rabies, distemper, and Advantage for fleas vaccines,” said Kevin T. Mace, general manager and president of Spay/Neuter/Now.

“Unfortunately, people are not vaccinating their animals. Ninety-one percent of the cats that come into our clinic need their rabies vaccinations, and that’s primarily low-income owned cats,” he said.

Mr. Mace said the mobile clinic travels around the three north country counties and sets up in central locations to perform sterilizations.

“It’s a long-term process to get the animal population under control,” Mr. Mace said. “Especially in this area with so many barn and feral cats, it’s so important to get them sterilized as well because they can repopulate very quickly.”

In the winter, Spay/Neuter/Now doesn’t take the vehicle on the road, so the clinic is hosted by the St. Lawrence Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Jefferson County SPCA in Watertown.

“We’re very appreciative that they’re able to do that,” Mr. Mace said. “Otherwise, they would’ve had all winter to reproduce again and we’re fighting an uphill battle as it is.”

Mr. Mace said that this was the first year the agency did dog sterilizations in the “neuter commuter.”

Although the clinic usually sees more cats than dogs, on picture day, Agway’s greenhouse was full of dogs in line to visit Santa.

The number of sales of dog toys and treats sometimes increases during picture day, according to Agway employee Luke M. Wilson, Potsdam.

“It depends on how much patience they have with their animal when they’re out there,” he said.

Katie M. Saunders, Potsdam, works in the greenhouse at Agway. She said people bring dogs into the store all the time.

“They come in and there are treats on the counter for the dogs,” she said. “Dogs are always welcome here.”

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