Pets go to church, behave beautifully

Crucifer Margaret Harding and the Very Rev Dr Trevor James led yesterday's pet procession before...
Crucifer Margaret Harding and the Very Rev Dr Trevor James led yesterday's pet procession before the service at St Paul's Cathedral. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Animals make us "more fully human" and should be celebrated for it, the Rev Helene Mann told the 12th annual pet service at St Paul's Cathedral yesterday afternoon.

Welcoming about 70 service-goers with about 40 pets, Rev Mann said animals "opened up another world" for humans.

Josie Frazer (11), of Dunedin, had possibly the most exotic pet, a part-Chinese silky chicken, which she said was a bit "spooked" but well behaved during the hour-long service.

Dogs large and small made up most of the surprisingly well-behaved pet menagerie, along with a lone cat, and a remote-controlled tarantula which caused a few sideways glances before people realised it was fake.

Christopher John, a Franciscan brother visiting from South Korea, asked the audience what they considered the most dangerous animal, before suggesting they look at themselves.

Humans were the most dangerous because they had the most power over the environment and animals.

The message of St Francis of Assisi, in whose honour the service was held, was that animals "praise God" by being and expressing themselves, he said.

Animals were not perfect - some people were afraid of dogs because they had been attacked, while cats sometimes menaced birds, or did "annoying" things like bringing mice inside.

Otago SPCA president Sharon Lont said that amid the "horror" stories about human cruelty to animals, there were plenty of happy endings, too.

The love between pets and humans was reciprocal and very touching, she said.


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