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Santa Claus visits pets at Ridge Animal Clinic

Dogs, cats, and guinea pigs all sit on Santa’s lap

Santa and Sully, a longhaired dachshund, look like old friends. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

LANSING, Ill. (December 14, 2018) – How do you get a Christmas card-worthy photo of your pets? Bring them to see Santa at Ridge Animal Clinic, located at 3667 Ridge Road in Lansing. For more than 12 years, Ridge Animal Clinic has hosted a Photos with Santa event. This year he arrived on Wednesday, December 12, for a morning shift and an afternoon shift.

Manager Jennifer Galbreath says the set-up at Ridge Animal Clinic is more conducive to getting good photos because it’s a more personal approach than what might be available at a pet store chain. It’s a private room with one-on-one staff attention, and a Santa who’s really good with animals.

This particular Santa spends a lot of time at Settlers Pond Animal Shelter, so he’s familiar with all kinds of creatures—domesticated and wild.

Duke, a doberman pinscher, might be intimidating to some, but this Santa welcomes him gently. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

The Santa visit is free, a way to say thank-you and Merry Christmas to the Lansing community. Most of the visitors are clients of the clinic, but a few people drop in just to say hi to Santa. All are welcome.

Santa is set up in a private room, to minimize distractions for pets who are nervous. Ridge Animal Clinic staff Jennifer (green) and Becky (blue) keep a list of visitors and email addresses, so each can receive a finished photo. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
In years past, Santa has sat next to a Christmas tree, but some of the animals found the tree distracting. So this year the room was decorated as a winter wonderland, and Santa was positioned in front of a festive backdrop. Here he poses with 11-year-old Dakota. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Goodies are available so guests can snack during the photo session. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Each year, Ridge Animal Clinic choose an animal-related cause to support, and guests are welcome to make a donation. This year’s chosen nonprofit was Kitties For Keeps, a no-kill, foster-based cat rescue that finds homes for abandoned, abused, and neglected cats.

Many of Santa’s visitors took advantage of the opportunity to support Kitties For Keeps this year. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Wolf Peiser brought in his cat, Casey, to see Santa. His wife had come in earlier with their dog, Lily. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The pop of flashbulbs, the waving and calling, and the occasional squeak of a squeaky toy had little effect on Casey’s expression. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Still, a nice photo. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Each pet leaves with a baggie of treats. Some select their own out of the baskets. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

This was Galbreath’s first year organizing the Santa visit. By 4:00pm on Wednesday afternoon, Santa had seen about 20 guests—mostly dogs, but also a few cats, and two guinea pigs.

Santa says the Ridge Animal Clinic photo day is one of his favorite assignments. Not only is it well organized and fun, but he appreciates having a way to give back for all that Ridge Animal Clinic has done for Settlers Pond Shelter. The shelter was founded by Roland and Pinky Janota on their family farm in Beecher, Illinois, as a no-kill rescue for “any type of animal in need.” Pinky Janota invites the public to visit and learn about farming, hooded animals, and exotic animals.

Ridge Animal Clinic is located at 3667 Ridge Road in Lansing, Illinois. Call 708-474-3100 for more information.


Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.