Arlington, VA

Even COVID-19 could not stop an opportunity for adorable pet photos around the holidays.

During two weekends in November, local pet owners can get family portraits ready for seasons-greetings cards with the holiday edition of Porch Portraits, a pandemic-proof fundraiser by the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

“Have a holiday pajama party, bring out your favorite party looks, deck your pet in their holiday gear, any holiday fun you’d like to capture,” the announcement from AWLA said.

The organization has hosted holiday “Pet Pawtrait” sessions before, but this year will look different: The event will span three days and will be socially distanced. Sessions will take about 10 minutes, with a minimum donation of $100, and participants will receive at least three professional digital images within 10 days.

As holidays approach and the pandemic continues, AWLA is focused on supporting the community as people cope with job losses, including via its pet pantry and veterinary support, AWLA Events Coordinator Hollie Dickman said.

“We never want food or resources to stand in the way of people keeping their pet,” she said. “We want to keep pets with the people who love them as much as we can, especially during holidays and COVID-19.”

Sessions are open for Nov. 14, 21 and 22 and participants must be residents of Arlington or Alexandria. Registration for sessions on Nov. 14 end Sunday, while registration for the weekend of Nov. 21-22 ends next Sunday, Nov. 15.

Participants select the date, but AWLA will coordinate times so photographers can do back-to-back sessions in the same neighborhood. Times may range from 8 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

Those who want to notify AWLA of times that do not work for them are asked to contact Dickman at [email protected]

Participants must have a porch in front of their house or an outdoor area, such as a park, in front of their condo or apartment complex where pictures can be taken.

All portraits will be taken from a 6-foot distance with no direct contact between the photographer and the household, the announcement said.

Local photographers Mike Leonard, Jeremy Robin and Erinn Shirley will be taking the portraits.

This is the second socially-distant porch portrait session AWLA has run to raise funds this year. The first occurred in May, two months into mandated restrictions due to COVID-19.

Leonard had been doing porch portraits during the pandemic and asked to donate his services to AWLA as a fundraiser, Dickman said. The impromptu fundraiser generated $3,000 from 25 participating families.

“I thought that was a great success,” she said. “We are anticipating a similar turnout, we hope to see that $3,000 raised again.”

Family portraits courtesy of Hollie Dickman. Christmas dog (top) via AWLA/Facebook.

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