Santa Paws House Is Sheriff Smith’s Pet Project

Although Santa Claus is likely to always be the star of Christmas in the Park, he has competition this year.

Young cats on display at Santa Paws House.

Behind the windows of a trailer-turned-Victorian-parlor, cats, kittens, dogs and puppies — and an occasional rabbit – are on display and up for adoption.  The newest display in Christmas in the Park is drawing crowds of visitors and would-be pet owners.

Santa Paws House is the creation of Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith who was inspired by the San Francisco Macy’s window displays of pets who need homes sponsored by the SPCA. She wanted to support animal adoptions in Santa Clara County with a new display at Christmas in the Park, Downtown San Jose’s winter wonderland in Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park. The annual holiday tradition will be open through January 1.

Santa Paws House, which is on the Market Street side of the park, offers a charming setting for the adoptees. Cats and kittens occupy the outside rooms, with dogs in the center.

Santa Paws House is the creation of Sheriff Laurie Smith.

Each room is decorated with wallpaper, wainscoting and other features chosen by Smith to provide a home-like environment.

The felines are usually seen napping on the upholstered chairs and a beds constructed by Elmwood Jail inmates who are learning such skills as upholstery, carpentry and welding. The inmates, dubbed Santa’s elves on a photo on an outside wall of the exhibit, also rebuilt the trailer.

Petco Express provided toys and supplies for the animals in the exhibit and gave a donation to Christmas in the Park.