Special Delivery

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This Christmas morning, Santa’s elves were at a different workshop, the Fairfax County Animal Shelter. And instead of delivering toys, they delivered puppies to their forever homes.

Thursday is the last day Ripley the dog will spend at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter; he’s getting adopted. Since Ripley’s adoption day is also Christmas Day, his homecoming is extra special.


“Merry Christmas! We have something for you, we have a surprise for you here, here’s Ripley,” says Tawny Hammond, the director at the shelter. Two shocked kids answered the door to their Vienna home, unsure what was going on. “I was like, what is happening?” said Kelly Clark. “I was thinking, I don’t know what’s going on,” says Drew Clark. “I still don’t! He looks like a good dog for us.”

Unbeknownst to Kelly and Drew Clark, their parents had this all planned out. Earlier this week, their mom and dad went to the animal shelter where they picked out Ripley and signed up for the special “Holiday Delivery Program.” “Santa asked for us to assist with us, they said Ripley was going to his forever home, we were so excited. We were like, we can bring Ripley, no problem! We got it covered with volunteers,” Hammond said to the Clark family.

This is the first year for the Holiday Delivery Program. In the past 2 days they’ve adopted out 3 dozen animals, just like Ripley. A big part of the program is making sure families realize that giving a pet as a gift is wonderful, but the responsibility can’t be overlooked. “It’s gonna be a commitment for a long time,” says Dan Clark. “We are sure we are ready to make that commitment.”

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For the Clark family, the timing was perfect. After recently losing their dog Charlie, who they also adopted from the shelter, they were finally ready to add another member to their family. “He was such an important part of our family, and the kids really wanted a new dog,” says Kathy Clark. “This seemed like the great time and a great way to surprise them.”

“This just puts excitement, you know the holidays season, it puts excitement into people’s lives,” says Hammond. “Shelter pets are wonderful animals, they are beautiful animals. We are always coming up with new creative ideas, this was one of those. How can we make this special? The family comes in, again, intentionally picking out a pet, saying we want to add a pet to our family, we’ve got the love to give, then to deliver it adds a piece of special-ness and a family memory that’s unique.”

The Clark family agrees. “It is important to adopt. They’re the best dogs,” says Kelly.

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Of course, I had to get some puppy kisses before I left. Ripley was just so sweet! For more information about the Holiday Delivery Program, visit the Fairfax County Animal Shelter’s website here. 

I also snapped a couple of pictures of these sweet faces – looking for their forever homes… Remember ADOPT, don’t shop! Visit your local shelter when you are looking for a new pet. Shelter pets = the best pets.

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