In a society obsessed with pet dogs, cats, rodents, fish and reptiles, it only follows that churches should open their doors to Fido.
“As a boy in San Antonio, Paul Flotron helped his family raise miniature schnauzers,” writes Mark Oppenheimer in the New York Times. By age 10, he had accumulated a menagerie of “dwarf crocodiles, African pancake tortoises, birds, boa constrictors, hermit crabs, fish, and always dogs.
“Today, Flotron runs Creature Comforts Great and Small, a St. Louis pet-care business, and leads Noah’s Ark, a pet ministry of Grace Church, a large nondenominational Protestant church. Noah’s Ark runs a pet-food drive, supports a no-kill rescue, brings pets to visit the sick and infirm, and hosts a grief group for those who have lost a pet,” reports Oppenheimer:
“We actually have Bible study and discuss passages that are animal related,” Mr. Flotron said. “We make that our foundation.”
In a culture obsessed with dogs, dog whisperers and domestic pets of all kinds, religious groups are paying attention, too. Many megachurches, where members often meet in smaller affinity groups, are sponsoring groups for pet lovers.
In 2007, the Humane Society hired a liaison to religious communities, notes Oppenheimer:
“Animal ministries are in every state,” said Christine Gutleben, the Humane Society’s first director of faith outreach, “and they do everything, including pet food in traditional food drives, to donating to local shelters, designating church grounds as animal sanctuaries, hosting adoption events, printing animals for adoption in church bulletins.”