9/14/2012 9:17:00 AM With support, Oregon Humane Society puts pets in homes
Oregon Humane Society photo
A pet owner gives her dog a smooch at A Blooming Hill Vineyard and Winery.
Photo by Colleen Clark
Father Julian Cassar blesses a pet at St. Francis Cathedral in Baker.
Pet blessings set
When a beloved animal is sick, Catholic pet owners may pray for the intersession of St. Francis of Assisi, patron to creatures – big and small. The saint’s feast day is Oct. 4.
Legends of St. Francis tell of the popular saint preaching to the birds, blessing fish and releasing them back into the water, and brokering a deal with a wolf to not make prey of people.
Catholic parishes often highlight the occasion of St. Francis’ feast day with a pet blessing.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops shares this prayer for pets from the Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers: “O God, you have done all things wisely; in your goodness you have made us in your image and given us care over other living things. Reach out with your right hand and grant that these animals may serve our needs and that your bounty in the resources of this life may move us to seek more confidently the goal of eternal life.” Among the parishes in Oregon that have pet blessings planned are:
St. Francis Cathedral, Baker City Sunday, Sept. 30, following the 9:30 a.m. Mass 2235 First St. 541-523-4521
St. Francis School, Banks Thursday, Oct. 4, 9 a.m. School Mass followed by animal blessing 39085 NW Harrington Rd. 503-324-2182
The Madeleine, Portland Thursday, Oct. 4, 2:30 p.m. 3123 NE 24th Ave. 503-281-5777
Holy Cross Church, Portland Saturday, Oct. 6, 10 a.m. In the church parking lot 5227 N Bowdoin St. 503-289-2834
St. Anthony Church, Tigard Saturday, Oct. 6, at 9:30 a.m. In the Grant Street parking lot 12645 SW Pacific Hwy. 503-639-4179 ext. 212
Resurrection Church, Tualatin Sunday, Oct. 7, at 2 p.m. Blessing of the animals followed by a barbecue.
Clarice Keating Of the Catholic Sentinel
Like St. Francis, patron of animals, people in Oregon have a special connection with their pets.
That fact can be seen through the Oregon Humane Society’s adoption rates, which are consistently three to four times the national average.
“If you go to states like Tennessee, people bring animals to the dump and shoot them for practice or sport. You don’t have to go to Third World countries to see animal abuse,” said Barbara Baugnon, communications director at OHS. “We live in a really special place that demands respect for animals.”
OHS’s adoption rates in 2011 were 99 percent for dogs and 95 percent of cats. The national average is 60 percent for dogs, and 20 percent for cats.
Local Catholics support the mission of OHS. A Blooming Hill Vineyard and Winery in Cornelius was one of the 11 dog-friendly wineries in the north Willamette Valley to offer complimentary wine tastings recently as part of the Canines Uncorked fundraiser. St. Alexander Church parishioners Holly and Jim Witte own the winery, where their two dogs welcomed tasters as they arrived with their own furry friends.
Fundraisers like this one are part of the campaign that has allowed OHS to fund measures to increase save rates. All animals that come into OHS are altered and microchipped before they can be adopted. In 2007, the organization built an on-site animal hospital where veterinary students are available 24 hours a day. Strays can be spayed or neutered the same day they are dropped off, thereby reducing the amount of time they spend in the shelter. That, in turn, frees up more space for new animals.
“Once an animal comes into our care, we are dedicated to that animal finding a home,” Baugnon said.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, 39 percent of households in the country own at least one dog, and 33 percent of households own at least one cat. In addition to providing unconditional love, pets are shown to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial. Some studies indicate that spending time with an animal can lower blood pressure, says the national humane society.