SNIFF NOTES: Santa Claus Lives


Yes, there is a Santa Claus.

I know this because I have witnessed it, time and time again.

The Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter had our Christmas Open House last weekend and it was there that I saw Santa Claus.

He was in the shelter, taking pictures with Moms and Dads and children and animals.

I saw him in the faces of the adopted pets who returned to get their photos taken for the holidays. The joy on their faces. We had two pitbulls who were adopted together, Bruno and Sunshine, stop by. The minute they walked through the door, those pitbull smiles never left their faces and their tails never stopped wagging.

We even had cats come in for a photo – and it was easy to see how well-cared for those felines were.

Two guinea pigs even had a picture taken and they were some of the most beautiful-looking guineas I’ve seen in a long time.

Yes, there is a Santa Claus.

I saw him in the faces of the children, who brought supplies for the animals at CVAS. They placed their bags of food and treats and toys under our Christmas tree and were so excited to spend time with the animals they had helped.

I saw him in the faces of people who filled out adoption applications on that day because they fell in love with a four-legged baby in our kennels.

Yes, there is a Santa Claus.

I saw him in the smiles on the staff at CVAS when they were once again reunited with the animals they had cared for. They were able to realize, in those few moments, that their hard work is worth it. That the early mornings spent cleaning litterboxes and feeding and medicating the dogs and cats and rabbits and guinea pigs really means so much.

Because their efforts allow people and animals to find one another. Best friends are made. Love is connected and the depth of the emotion is difficult to truly quantify.

Yes, there is a Santa Claus.

I saw him in the visitors who stopped by to wish everyone a happy holiday and a Merry Christmas. People we don’t see all year take the time to come out on these two days to make sure the holidays are a time of joy and wonder and love for our four-legged friends.

Yes, there is a Santa Claus.

I saw it in the efforts leading up to our Open House and all the hard work the staff put in to decorating the shelter to make it a welcoming place and how each and every person came together to create a truly wonderful space for every visitor.

Yes, there is a Santa Claus.

To the disbelievers, I send the warmest holiday wishes. You are welcome to your beliefs. I would never take that ability from you. They are your choices and no one should be able to remove that agency from your person. You are certainly allowed to believe there is no such thing as Santa.

But I’m here to tell those who wonder when they hear bells they can’t find the source of, or those with the tiniest hint of possibility that someone did come down that chimney, that Santa is, in fact, real.

He is in every wish. He is in every smile. He is in every gift. He is in every moment someone thinks of others. He is in a warm meal. He is in a present, even if it’s the only one you receive this season. He is in the kindness of strangers. He is in the twinkle of the lights. He is in the brown eyes of the pet beside you right now.

Yes, everyone, there is a Santa Claus – and I am confident, you, too, will see him if you just take the time to truly look.


Jennifer Vanderau is the Publications and Promotions Consultant for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter and can be reached at [email protected]. The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at 263-5791 or visit the website CVAS also operates a thrift store in Chambersburg. Help support the animals at the shelter by donating to or shopping at the store.

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