The number of church services to bless pets started to grow in the 1990s. Some were held in Iowa last weekend. More are coming up this weekend. Sarah Ostlund, the pastor of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Webster City, says this is the third annual Blessing of the Animals for her congregation.
“We invited our families to bring their other family members, their pets — any pet is welcome to come and as they are such blessings to our families, we want to take the opportunity to give them a blessing and share our appreciation and love for them in a worship service,” she says.
Money from the offering collected during the service will be donated to an animal shelter in Fort Dodge.
“That is the one that our community uses,” Ostlund says, “and we’ll give them some extra money for their supplies and whatnot.”
The Webster City church will stage its Sunday service in a building on the Hamilton County Fairgrounds, so large animals like horses can be blessed, but they’ll have to be in a trailer. Other pets must be caged or on a leash. St. John’s Episcopal Church in Mason City will hold its Blessing of the Animals outside on the church lawn this Sunday. The Dubuque Regional Humane Society is co-hosting a Pet Fest and Blessing of the Animals tomorrow morning at a Lutheran church in Dubuque.
Many of these services are being held this weekend because the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, is on October 4.
(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City; Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson also contributed to the story.)