Northern Ireland dog owners hail special day as Santa Paws comes to town
Christmas came early for Belfast's dog lovers yesterday when Santa Claus came to town.
Hundreds of pooches and their pals from the city and beyond flocked to the Dirty Onion bar in the city's Hill Street to get their photo taken with, and receive a present from, Santa.
Ballyrobert man - and Belfast Telegraph reporter - Allan Preston, who had brought his labrador pup Bonnie to see Santa Paws, and support the Lucy's Trust dog charity in the process, said the turnout at the event was amazing.
He said: "There were hundreds of people queued along Hill Street, all with their dogs - all shapes and sizes.
"There was even a man dressed up in a dog suit, playing with the pups. They went bananas. It was really good fun."
One east Belfast woman brought her boxer dog to get his Christmas treat.
Like Allan, she reckoned the organisers were overwhelmed by the numbers of dog lovers who'd turned up.
"There were hundreds and hundreds," she said.
"It took us three hours to get in to see Santa - but it was worth it. Despite the long wait, everyone was very well behaved - it was a good event.
"Ernie was knackered after meeting Santa," she added, "but the special doggie dinner he got soon perked him up.
"Poor Santa Paws. He had to work a lot longer than perhaps he'd expected."
Dog owner Julie Causby wrote on the Lucy's Trust Facebook page: "We waited nearly three hours, but it was so well worth it. Met lovely people and beautiful dogs. Thanks for putting this event on and for bringing the real Santa!"
Proceeds from the fun event will go to the Lucy's Trust dog charity, formed in memory of "the best dog in Ireland" in 2010, initially in response to the growing need for rescue space for dogs from Craigavon pound.
Run by vet Olivia Kennedy and her partner Rob Durston, the Northern Ireland charity is a sanctuary for dogs who cannot be rehomed due to behavioural issues, those which are in most need of a rescue place, and dogs needing assistance to overcome difficulties.