RICHLAND -- Pooches had plenty of sloppy smooches Saturday for photographer Rob DiPiazza during the annual Santa Paws event sponsored by the Pet Over Population Prevention organization.
There were big dogs, little dogs, shy dogs, yappy dogs and happy dogs, all waiting their turn for the chance to get a photo with Santa.
There was 5-year-old Pomeranian Tuffy, 5-year-old Shih Tzu Samson, 3-year-old Shih Tzu Daisy, 10-year-old shaggy dog Ellie, just to name a few the canines who dropped by POPP headquarters with their owners.
Tuffy's owner, Bonnie Buchanan of Richland, said her dog was very excited about posing with Santa. He was decked out in a red Christmas sweater and once in Santa's lap he kept his eyes alert, his ears up and was as happy as a clam.
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"He poses all the time at home," Buchanan said.
Daisy's owner, Sharon Warren of Kennewick, has brought her Shih Tzu to Santa Paws for four years. Darlene Knutzen of Kennewick said her dog Samson also loves to visit with Santa.
Crystal Torres, 20, has been a POPP volunteer since she was 12 years old. On Saturday, her job was to help photographer DiPiazza entice the sweetest poses from the dogs.
"Some of the dogs are a little scared and won't sit still, others are so excited to be there they can't sit still either," Torres said. "But mostly all the dogs are so good."
Though all the pets at Saturday's event were dogs, there have been all sorts of critters brought in for Santa photos in the past.
"We've had cats, rabbits, snakes, guinea pigs, hedge hogs, you name it," said Molli Van Dorn, founder of POPP. "But it looks like only dogs showed up this year."
The event is a fundraiser for the nonprofit POPP agency and Van Dorn sings the praises of photographer DiPiazza, who owns Artistic Portraits in Richland.
"He doesn't charge us anything for his time or for making up the photo packages," Van Dorn said. All the proceeds benefit POPP, which is made up of an all-volunteer staff who work to find homes for stray dogs and cats.
The adoption site is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays at 524B Warehouse St., off Wellsian Way in Richland.
For more information about the agency, go to www.popptricities.org or call 943-4722.