Santa goes to the dogs for picture day in West Chester Twp.

4:10 p.m Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 Butler County
Frankie the Dachshund reluctantly poses with Santa today at West Chester Veterinary Center. LAUREN PACK/STAFF

Treats and chew toys were surely on the wish list for fur babies visiting Santa today at West Chester Veterinary Center.

Pets were invited to sit for a portrait with the Jolly Old Elf and most were cooperative.

Veterinarian and owner Dr. Karla Blackmore put her skills to work getting reluctant dogs to pose for a frame-worthy portraits.

With the help of holiday scarves, hats and signs the pooches were looking their best when Bradley Blackmore of Traveling Studios snapped shots. And of course there was a very patient Santa.

Tracy Manas brought her shiny black Labrador Retriever in for a photo shoot. Darci Marie was wagging her tail and working the room , but she was a bit shy when it came to Santa.

After Darci donned a colorful scarf, she sat still beside Santa for a cute picture.

“Oh, that’s a great one,” Manas said looking at the monitor a her dog’s “smiling” face.

Rudy, a Golden Retriever, was at the vet for treatment and stopped by for a photo before leaving. She wasn’t fond of a Santa hat put on her head, but was happy to smile for a treat. Kara Sahill of Monroe was also all smiles after viewing Rudy’s portrait.

Fancy Louise, a white French Bulldog, was a favorite of the staff. Decked out in a pink collar, the little dog took several great shots while sitting Santa’s lap without hesitation.

“She needed to have her picture taken with Santa. It is going on the mantel, said Anna Cucinotta, Fancy’s owner.

But Frankie, an 8-month-old Dachshund, wanted no part of the Santa or the camera even though he was wearing a new Christmas sweater. After some reassuring words, the little dog finally settled long enough for a couple shots. Beside him was a sign that said “My Mommy made me do this.”

Tracy Harrea, whose daughter, Shelby, owns Frankie, also said she would be framing a portrait of her “grand dog.”

Dr. Blackmore said the event is popular and in past years some cats also sat on Santa’s lap.

The dogs got treats after their visit with Santa, not candy canes.

During the holiday season, Dr. Blackmore offered a few tips to keep pets safe.

• Food: Chocolate is probably the most well-known human food that is toxic to dogs. During the holidays, chocolate is often hidden inside of gifts and stockings. Dogs have a great sense of smell, and they can find the treats even amid the wrapping paper. Make sure that all chocolate is kept up high or behind secured doors. Do not put it under a Christmas tree, in accessible stockings, or on side tables. If your dog does ingest chocolate, contact a veterinarian immediately.

• “People food”: While it may be tempting to allow your canine or feline companion to indulge in Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham, they do not produce the same enzymes as humans to appropriately digest our foods. Allowing pets to share our meals can lead to GI upset or pancreatitis, which can be life threatening. If you want to spoil your pet, give an appropriate, dog-friendly treat.

Celebratory items:

• Unsecured Christmas trees: Pets are curious by nature. Unsecured trees can be a fall risk for a cat if they try to jump into one and fall to the ground. Any pet may also cause the tree to fall over itself, leading to broken ornament shards and a potential fire hazard.

• Open flames: Many celebrations include candles. Be sure that candles are kept out of reach of pets and that flames are extinguished when the celebration has moved out of the area.

• Poinsettias and lilies are two ornamental flowers common at this time of the year. If you choose to bring these plants into your home, they should be displayed out of reach of pets. Both of these plants are toxic if ingested. Poinsettias cause irritation to the mouth and stomach. Lilies can cause kidney failure.

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