Submitted By Kathy McCandless, Special to the Signal Tribune
A statue of St. Francis of Assisi looked on benignly as 4-year-old Kayleen Wilson-Lindberg and her mother Valerie brought photos of their cats Tigger and Salem, and their rats Lightning McQueen and Sally to the First Annual Blessing of the Animals at California Heights United Methodist Church Sunday. Kayleen also clutched a toy representing the dog she hoped to get some day.
Next, Pastor Amy Aitken leaned over and gently caressed the head of 14-year-old Holly. “May you always be a blessing to those around you,” she murmured to the dog. A similar blessing was given to more than 75 furry, scaly, feathered and leathery pets brought by members of the community and the church. Dogs, cats, rats, two frogs, an alligator lizard, a turtle and a gecko, as well as photos and toys as proxies for pets at home, came to the steps of the sanctuary on Orange Avenue to receive a blessing. Even people out walking their dogs stopped by when they saw the activity.
“Among the pets, there were some that were very sick and many pets with stories. I blessed photos, stuffed animals and toys representing animals that would hopefully be coming their way,” Aitken said afterwards. “It was a lot of fun to see the line of animals waiting to be blessed.”
In addition to the blessing, pets and people were invited into the fellowship hall for animal treats, people snacks and souvenirs. Pet care information provided by local pet supply stores was available. Friends of Long Beach Animals gave out free spay and neuter coupons and there was also information on dog training.
This event was held in celebration of Earth Day and as recognition of the important contribution that companion animals make in the lives of their owners.
For further information about the church visit www.calheightsumc.org.