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Animal Owners Bring Their Pets for Health Blessing

October 04, 1998|JENNIFER HAMM

James Padron brought his dog, Cisco, to St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church in Simi Valley on Saturday in the hopes that the annual animal blessing would do what veterinary medicine hasn't been able to: help heal the Rhodesian ridgeback's bone cancer.

"It's just her and I," Padron said, adding that Cisco comforted him when he recently underwent a kidney transplant. "I figured I'd bring her here. I'm just doing my part, paying her back."

The Simi Valley resident was one of dozens of pet owners who brought animals ranging from cats and dogs to lovebirds and a guinea pig for a special blessing of health. The Rev. Julia Christian told the crowds that gathered for the two blessings about the love St. Francis of Assisi had for animals.

"Oh, God, who has made all the Earth and every creature that lives, we give thanks to all our animal friends," Christian said as part of the blessing.

"He called all creation brothers and sisters," Christian said of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. "He had this real sense of unity."

Simi Valley resident Maggie Riley brought her dogs, Paganini and Violetta, because it was important to her to have every member of the family blessed.

"We feel the Lord loves animals," Riley said as she held Paganini, a brown Pomeranian, and her husband, Bob Riley, danced with Violetta, a white poodle. "We want the church to bless our dogs with health and good behavior."

In its second year, the Animal Fair honors animals with more than just a blessing. Activities included 4-H Club, equestrian and police K-9 unit demonstrations, along with a petting zoo.

Christian believes it is important to honor what animals provide for humans.

"Animals are not only our pets, but they also work for us," she said.

Another animal blessing will be held at 2 p.m. today at Plaza Park in Oxnard. It is being sponsored by All Saints Episcopal and Our Saviors Lutheran churches.

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