Churches Go to the Dogs (And Cats)
Animal advocates partner with two congregations to provide veterinary care to a North Carolina community
When Stephen Owen thinks about his family's dog, it stirs thoughts of his faith.
“I truly believe pets are a gift from God. We recently bought a chocolate Lab, and just the smile it brings to my kids' faces when they see him … It's obvious to me that pets are special to people, because God gave them to us, and it’s our duty to protect and to help what God gives us, to be good stewards,” he says.
The connection he makes might come as a surprise to some, but Owen—associate pastor of Shallow Well Church, a United Church of Christ congregation in Sanford, N.C.—thinks it makes perfect sense.
His experience of the human-animal bond as a relationship with sacred underpinnings captures the spirit of an event held last October in Lee County, N.C. Hundreds of people turned out for a free shot clinic and spay/neuter awareness effort jointly hosted by Shallow Well Church and Jonesboro Heights Baptist Church, also in Sanford. The event was coordinated by Kim Alboum, North Carolina state director for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS); Amanda Arrington, manager of spay/neuter initiatives for The HSUS; and Christine Gutleben, director of the organization’s Faith Outreach program.