'I'll be over the rainbow bridge': Long-term dogs at Delavan shelter write letters to Santa Paws

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DELAVAN, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Dogs who have called the Lakeland Shelter in Delavan home for years are now writing letters to Santa with their Christmas wishes.

CBS 58 spoke with Kristen Perry, the director of the Lakeland Animal Shelter. She's worked there for 25 years and wants to shine a light on some of their long-term residents.

"Several of our larger breeds that have been here for several years, for various reasons they are a little harder to place than just any dog," said Perry.

Dogs like Vic, a disabled sweetheart left on the side of the road by a former owner. Vic was brought to the Lakeland Animal Shelter by police that found him.

Vicky Van Lare is an animal advocate. She could barely get through Vic's letter.

"My time is limited before I'll be over the rainbow bridge. I sit up front with Sara and everyone says hi to me. I would sure love to have a home to care for me. But I know it's a big ask. So Santa...what I want is to tell you thank you," said Van Lare.

"This is why I do what I do. To help animals like Vick. Give them time, don't dump them on the side of the road, don't dump them at the shelter. This is a lifetime commitment," said Van Lare.

Vic isn't the only dog in need of a loving home. There are several other dogs at the shelter who are waiting to meet their best friend.

"That's Cody and Elena, they're a bonded pair. It wouldn't be right to split them up. They depend on each other. That alone has made them a lot harder to place," said Perry.

Romeo has called the shelter home since 2016. Staff say he is quite the ladies man. Here is part of his letter:

"My Christmas Wish remains the same, A True and Forever Family of My Very Own. I want it to be my last home and Family, so I am willing to wait no matter how long it takes, but I secretly hope that it is not too much longer! I am almost 8 years old but please don't consider me what they call "A Senior", no way!"

Other dogs like Spirit, are also writing letters to Santa.

"Every night I also dream of a real forever family and home of my very own! Not a family who will let me down like in the past, through no fault of my own, but one who will love me always! I prefer a fairly quiet household with no young children as they can be a little too chaotic for me. Other than that, I just really love people in general! I love them so much that I actually get so excited when I see my friends, (my caretakers and volunteer friends) that I gently climb up, wrap my paws around them, and hug them like there's no tomorrow! I love hugging so much and when my friends hug back, I feel so special, safe, and loved - then I hug again!"

"We've invested so much time and care, so deeply, we want to make sure we set them up for success," said Perry.

The Lakeland Animal Shelter has created their own Advent calendar with items the shelter is looking for each day.

If you'd like to donate, you can do that here.

They are also looking for volunteers to help walk some of the dogs each day.

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