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SK's beasts to be blessed

A little blessing can go a long way, even for our furrier friends, and anyone who would like to give their animal a loving touch can bring them to a local church Saturday for the “Blessing of the Beasts.”

Offered annually by Spirit of Life Lutheran Church, the event is open to all animals whether they be large, small, mammal or even reptile.

“It gives people a chance to talk about how we love our pets and other animals,” said Pastor Eric Allert. “Then we will lay a hand on them and send them on their way.”

Allert, who took over as the church’s pastor Sept 4, said this will be his first “blessing of the beasts,” but he said his ceremonies should be “very similar” to those performed by former Pastor George Larson, who led such events at the church for more than a decade before his retirement last year.

“We wanted to continue them,” he said. “It’s something that’s fun to do, but it’s also good to remember that we are not alone, that God has blessed us with these companions” and we should treat them with respect and care.

According to Larson, such blessings are “ancient rites” that are held in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his love not only of animals, but of all nature.

“It is a perfect fit with the Lutheran Church,” Larson said. “Lutherans have a rich history as people of the soil, including farmers, and as good stewards of God’s gifts,” he said.

Over the years, Larson said he’s had people bring dogs, cats, rats, horses — and even a hedgehog. They bring them for various reasons, but perhaps most often hoping to help the animals fight a disease or start a better life after being abused or abandoned.

This year, Allert said along with inviting community members, he asked canine officers and their human partners from local law enforcement agencies like the Port Orchard Police Department and The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office to attend.

He said he is not sure if any will be able to make it, but that representatives from the Prison Pet Partnership Program, which allows inmates at the Women’s Correctional Center at Purdy to train, groom and board animals, are planning to attend.

In addition to bringing live animals, participants are asked to bring stuffed animals — either to be blessed as well, or to offer as donations to the Kitsap Sexual Assault Center or other local emergency services providers.

Donations of cash will be accepted for the Life Care Community Services Food Bank, and pet food will be collected to be offered to people on fixed incomes who have pets.

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