Santa Paws dished out treats to dogs in festive jumpers and reindeer antlers at a Christmas grotto with a difference.

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The Santa’s grotto for dogs at the Forum was set up as a treat for man’s best friend, and to put a new twist on a well-known message: that a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.

Dog-lovers queued up to give their pet – many in festive fancy dress – the chance of an audience with a dalmatian-spotted Santa Paws, in exchange for a donation to the RSPCA.

Tammy Clarke, fundraising and marketing manager for the RSPCA, said the event was a fun way to remind people of an important message.

“We want to raise awareness that a dog is for life, not just for Christmas,” she said.

“A lot of people, particularly in a recession, might take an animal in without thinking about the add-on costs that it brings.

“There are vet bills, food, bedding and leads to think about, as well as needing the responsibility and patience to look after an animal as sociable as a dog.”

Mrs Clarke said the RSPCA had many dogs looking for new homes, all of which come vetted, neutered and microchipped to keep future care costs down, and that advisers were able to pair people with an animal that would suit them.

First in line when the grotto opened was the Forum’s marketing manager Jayne Evans, who was inspired to set up the grotto after seeing a similar one in London last year, with her labrador, Delia.

She said: “We had people queuing up before Santa Paws was ready. People have made a special effort to dress their dogs up and bring them in on a very busy Christmas shopping day.”

The Santa’s grotto for dogs will be at the Forum on Saturday between noon and 3pm.

A gallery of the photos taken will be online at www.theforumnorwich.co.uk

Are you organising an unusual event in Norwich? Email mark.shields@archant.co.uk or call 01603 772423.

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