This kind of service "is very needed. People need to take the time to appreciate their pet; they're a part of our life," said Marge Cacciola of Beverly, who brought her wheaten terrier, Samson. "He's a member of the family. They all have souls, as we do."
Some were there to receive blessings they hoped would heal old wounds and foster new beginnings.
"God, we ask that you heal her body and mind. We ask that you help her enjoy her new family," Keith-Lucas said as she blessed Nibbles, a large German shepherd who was injured while helping her country fight the Iraq war. Nibbles was a bomb-sniffing dog, and one day an explosive detonated, sending shrapnel into her chest. Her life was spared and she was adopted, almost exactly a year ago, by Linda and Len Bruyette of Middleton.
"I brought her here to get a blessing, to maybe give her some advantage for a change," Linda Bruyette said. "She's had a hard life. She's been a service dog and never had a family. She's been used like a commodity, but she's more than that. She's no longer a commodity; she's our friend."
Debbie and Don Mailloix drove almost an hour from Rockland, Mass., to receive blessings for Ethel and Lucy, Yorkshire terriers they adopted last week from a puppy mill in Pennsylvania. The dogs were bred continuously, without rest, their whole lives, they said, until the couple rescued them. They learned about the Pet Ministry when their Yorkie, named Bella, died in August and their home church refused to hold a service.
"They said pets don't have souls and don't go to heaven," Don Mailloix said. So they called Weil, who drove to Rockland to officiate at a memorial service.