Last updated: July 17. 2013 3:37PM - 353 Views

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Chad Abshire

Staff Writer

WILLIAMSON — A local church went to the dogs (and cats) yesterday in the best way possible.

In observance of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, around 30 people came to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to have their pets receive a blessing.

The Rev. Nick England went to each dog and cat in attendance after an introductory prayer outside of the church, placed his hand upon the animal’s head and recited a small prayer before gesturing the sign of the cross before the pet.

“(Pet’s name), you were created by God and you are loved by God,” England said to each pet he blessed. “May you and your human family experience joy and companionship together and continue to be a blessing to each other. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.”

From big dogs to small dogs to house cats to cats up for adoption, each pet in attendance received a blessing. According to Senior Warden Rick Blankenship, the majority of people in attendance weren’t even parishioners of the church; instead, they were just pet owners who cared deeply for their pets.

While the practice of having one’s pet blessed is nothing new and is done yearly around the world on Oct. 4, the feast day of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, the question remains: Why do it at all? Why would anyone want to have their pet blessed?

Sam Olive, who brought his dog, Amos, to the church to be blessed, said that during the six years they’d been together, they’d developed a connection. He noted that many people get attached to their pets and care deeply for them, and that he was no different with Amos.

Kathy Thompson, with the Save Our Strays Animal Shelter, brought Puffy, a ragdoll cat, for a blessing. Puffy, who is up for adoption at the shelter had already been spayed and declawed. And now she had been blessed. To adopt Puffy or other animals, call 304-236-2300.

England told the Daily News that animals were created for a very specific reason:

“God gave them to us as to fulfill our humanity,” he said. “We can show love to a lesser creature and have them return it. Some people are as close to their pets as they are to their own family.

“If you love something that much and your love comes from God, why would you not want a blessing for it?”

But perhaps it was Susan Courtney who summed it up best. She brought her cat, Mr. Shiane Courtney, to the church for a blessing. The two of them had been together for 11 years after she rescued him from a veterinarian’s office. Susan, who said she was of the Baptist faith, had a very succinct reason for having Mr. Shiane blessed.

“So he could go to heaven,” she said. “So he could live a blessed life.”

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