When Winnipeg Animal Services decided to hold a “Christmas Day Fun” event for people to come by and play with dogs in their care, the organization expected to get a “handful of people” but instead hundreds showed up.
Video taken by the department captured all the fun as the dogs got to frolic in the snow, get fed treats by visitors, give “wet kisses” and get pet more than a few times.
Each Christmas, the department normally has a small team to come in, clean the animals and feed them before having a couple people arrive in the afternoon to let the dogs out for a run. This year, chief operating officer Leland Gordon told Global News they decided to do something different.
They created a Facebook event and invited people to come by and he said it “absolutely exploded.”
“At 2:30 when our doors opened, we literally had probably about 100 people in line down the street to come and see the dogs,” he said in a phone interview.
That number grew as the day went on.
During the visit, people tossed toys around for the dogs in the play yards, visited them in their kennels and fed them snacks. They also brought supplies and financial donations for the shelter.
Gordon said on Christmas there were about 15 to 20 dogs in their care. Many of them are stray dogs running with no licences, while some are also from northern communities.
He said it was a fun thing for Winnipeggers to do on Christmas when most things are closed and encouraged other shelters to do the same if they had the resources to do so.
“It was a wonderful feeling to see so many people so happy and so many smiles and of course, so many happy and excited dogs,” Gordon said.
According to Gordon, there was also expressions of interest in adopting by some people who attended the event.
Some said they would come back when the department was fully staffed to look into adopting one of the animals, he said.
Asked about other animals, Gordon said while they don’t house cats at the shelter, they have an agreement with the Humane Society which takes care of the felines brought in.
“You couldn’t ask for a better Christmas for Winnipeggers who came out to give their time and have some fun and of course, for the dogs that really got a lot of great attention that day,” he said.
By the end of the day, at 4:30 p.m., Gordon estimated that about 200 to 300 people went through the building.