ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Santa Claus made a stop at one of Albuquerque’s animal shelters Friday. The City’s Animal Welfare Department hosted a meet-and-greet where people could take pictures of their pets with Santa. 

“I am so impressed that people were ready, and they were already at the door before Santa even showed up, so they were already geared up,” Animal Welfare Department Marketing Manager Desiree Cawley. 

The Eastside Shelter was full of holiday cheer as families showed up with their furry friends to snap a photo with the jolly old man. This is the first year the shelter has put on this free event and they hope to make it an annual tradition.   

The shelter said, ever since the pandemic, they’ve struggled with adoptions, and this was a way to get people in the door. 

The shelter explained this year is one of the fullest it’s ever been with more than 800 animals. They’re hoping this event will help get more animals adopted. 

Jonathan Hubbarth adopted one of his dogs at the shelter and thinks the event is a great idea. 

“There’s a lot of dogs that end up you know without any homes and then some are on the street so it’s good that you can see what dogs they’ve taken in,” says Jonathan Hubbarth, shelter visitor. 

This year, the adoption fee is waived, and all adoptions include spaying or neutering, a microchip, vaccinations, and a free initial vet visit. 

They also throw in a free dog training class. The shelter said this event will get the word out to people looking to adopt while also getting in the Christmas spirit.        

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“We’re just trying to bring some holiday cheer to these animals who are just desperately looking for a forever home,” said Nick Manole, Santa Claus volunteer. 

The Eastside Shelter will be open Saturday and then reopens on the following Tuesday.