What an exciting opportunity to "Serve the Lord" or any other religious denomination that loves animals (all people love animals); this includes spirituality and the relationships of animals to a Higher Power or God. We don't want to insult or push religion on anyone, so the article is to be read with an open mind and how they fit into the plan of God, creation, love and purpose.

I began praying with dogs out on walks while working with them; I thought this was unusual at first, but know that Noah's Ark in the Book of Genesis-- is a well known Bible story and all animals are created by a power greater than ourselves... so why not pray for them and their human families? Or pray for the ones on "Death Row" at local dog pounds, waiting for a family or the unknown?

I found out about St. Francis of Assisi, a religious figure of the past. He had to do with "Blessing of the Animals" and other spiritual activities with animals. I began my research and WOW, began a volunteer pet ministry. Now this was volunteer work altogether and was met with complete fear and revolt. One individual wanted nothing to do with a relationship between God and the animals, but this is to be respected; nobody should have any belief or religion pushed on them. It is clearly up to pet owner, if they want their animal to be "blessed."

Animal blessings are much like house blessings, they require no ordination, no degree or experience. I checked with several religious denominations (one related to St. Francis) and my own church pastor. Anyone can do them. However they require a prayer sheet which you can find online, to be read to the animal and God. When I first began I wondered where would I get Holy water to sprinkle on them? So I went to the local Christian bookstore and the young man said, "You can have your pastor or any church pastor, pray over your water bottle" to make it official. SO, you should have a pastor (or if you become ordained) can pray over the bottle. The water is sprinkled over the animal after the service is performed.

I really enjoyed this activity and did graduate from a Bible college years ago, but never really understood the whole animal spiritual process until I got close spiritually to animals. Many religious denominations don't even know about animal chaplaincy, however they now offer doctorate degrees in it, and have courses for potential animal / pet ministers. BUT you can learn and practice it on your own-- it is up to you.

Opportunities exist for animal chaplains in: veterinary practices, dog pounds, animal shelters, zoos, wherever animals live and die. You can even get into the pet memorial services and do pet funerals and sell animal caskets. Some individuals cannot take the emotional overload of this activity, so it would be wise to search your heart, if this is really a true calling. However, you can still bless the animals and carry out services as a volunteer and be respected as an animal chaplain.

What about ordination? You are not required to be ordained. I got ordained by a couple ministries online, 100% legitimate! Some are free, some require a small fee, but you can be ordained in seconds if you wish. I got ordained because I contacted an animal chaplain agency and they said to, "Get ordained for professionalism." People do not want to think you are some nut praying and pouring water on the heads of their animals or farm animals. Imagine jumping over a farmer's fence and sprinkling all his cattle, pretty unusual, until the cops show up. So, be professional and become ordained TODAY.

I have blessed mostly dogs due to my relationships with them, such as shelter dogs. I pray that the Pit Bulls and controversial dog breeds (that are getting bad press) will not bite anyone, or that a strong dog will not bite a child; or that the dog will prosper in the new home, or will not get hit by a car-- and that God or a Higher Power is watching over them. I worked with high risk dogs, so they needed much prayer and spiritual care, much like people. I always pray for the newborns and pups, as they are going to be a handful for workers and the new family relationships they will enter.

On courses, I enrolled in Bible courses and through distance education. I took Bible, counseling, grief and loss, those helpful in working with people or animals. I have a background in working with the elderly, and did much pet therapy and always found the courses of great benefit. Unlike regular expensive college you can earn a doctorate degree for as low as $100 to $1000. These are not scams either, they are legitimate Bible colleges and institutes run from churches and non-profit organizations, that want you to learn and and help others. It could take a lot of time, as there are many Bible schools out there. In addition, many are FREE, with biblical counseling and certificates in preaching, etc. So in the search engine, type in FREE BIBLE SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES. You will be amazed at what you find, and how difficult the courses really are. Most require no donation, but a few dollars helps them out, for the printing of the course and mailings!

Again, though, the courses are not required to become a pet minister. Also, you can watch the pastors at local churches every year around October 3rd or 4th; they sometimes change the day, but is close to the beginning of the month. Honoring God and St. Francis of Assisi, they take in all the neighbor dogs, cats, birds, even elephants, and do the blessing outdoors or indoors, weather permitting.

In conclusion, animal spirituality is becoming a hot topic in Bible colleges, universities, veterinary schools and where they teach about animals. Sooner or later, you may be sitting next to a Great Dane at your church pew. There is much to learn about this new and growing field, so please read about it and start possibly an animal ministry today. Pray about your new direction!

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