This Church Will Take Care of Your Pets – Especially if You Can’t

“We asked what the church could do to be helpful to them. People said their pets were their family, sometimes their only family, and they couldn’t afford to feed them.”

Charlotte Craig, with her Shelties Maggie and Tanner, is the coordinator of the pet food pantry program
Charlotte Craig, with her Shelties Maggie and Tanner, is the coordinator of the pet food pantry program

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The Grace Episcopal Church of Lockport, NY (near Buffalo) goes above and beyond for its congregation.  In addition to providing for people in need, they also have a pet food pantry for the members who need help keeping their animal companions fed, and will give animals a place to stay when city homeless shelters turn them away.  And once a month, parishioners are welcome to bring their pets to the Sunday service.

I’m not a religious person, but my heart melted when I came across an article about Grace Episcopal on a local news site.  THIS is what religion is supposed to be about – helping one another, not fighting over a handful of lines in a book!  I wanted to find out more about this church, so I contacted Reverend Cindy Sever for an interview.  Here is what she had to say:

 

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Reverend Cindy Sever of the Grace Episcopal Church in Lockport
Reverend Cindy Sever of the Grace Episcopal Church in Lockport

 

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Grace Church sits in the inner-city of Lockport, NY.  Some social service agencies call our neighborhood “ground zero” for everything bad that can happen to a person.

Many in the congregation wanted to serve our neighbors, but didn’t know how to begin. I started walking around the neighborhood, introducing myself as the priest at Grace Church. I even knocked on doors to do this, and to invite neighbors to parish events.

As we talked to people in the neighborhood, we asked what the church could do to be helpful to them. The overwhelming answer was that we could help with pet food. People said their pets were their family, sometimes their only family, and they couldn’t afford to feed them. I’d read a study done in Niagara Falls that said Meals on Wheels had been stumped about why their clients were still losing weight, despite the fact that they were now receiving meals. The reason was that the pet parents were sharing their food with their pets.

 

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Donations for pets in need can also be made online
Donations for pets in need can also be made online

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We started God’s Gift of Grace Pet Food Pantry as a result. It is patterned after the one at Church of the Ascension’s in Buffalo. We supplement our clients’ pet food supply, providing up to 8 lbs. of dog food and 4 lbs. of cat food per person. We also distribute other pet supplies as we receive them, like cat litter, collars, leashes, dishes, coats, and bedding. We run entirely on donations; no money comes from the church budget.

Veterinarian Dr. Charles McCausland began providing free basic exams for pets and offering advice and answering questions for pet parents, almost as soon as the pet food pantry opened around two years ago.

 

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Dr. Charles Causland performing a free exam
Dr. Charles Causland performing a free exam

 

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We noticed the pet pantry is an important social time for our clients, so we provide coffee, other beverages, and snacks for our neighbors. I circulate and provide pastoral care. I’ve even done a funeral for the husband of one of our neighbors. I offer pet memorial services as well.

We received a $500 grant for spay/neuter services, and around 13 cats were spayed or neutered.

We have a PAWS, which stands for Pets Are Welcome Service, at 10:30 every third Sunday of the month, which is right before the pet food pantry at 11 am.

 

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Church members receiving food after Sunday mass.
Church members receiving food after Sunday mass.

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In response to the city’s Code Blue program, we are doing Code Blue for Pets. When someone has to go to the emergency shelter when the temperature goes below 15 degrees, we will pick up their pets and care for them until the temperature rises. We are selling Code Blue for Pets bracelets for $2 each to help raise money for this project. We will also gratefully accept donations.

Our website is http://www.gracelkpt.org/and our FB page is Facebook.com/gracelockport. We accept donations of money via PayPal there. We accept donations via credit card or check in person. Food and supplies can be dropped off at the church from 9 am until 1 pm Monday through Friday. Please call 716.433.2878 to let us know you’re coming over.

 

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Rev. Cindy performing a blessing
Rev. Cindy performing a blessing

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On the first Sunday in October at 2 pm, we have a big Blessing of the Animals service. Every pet receives a personal blessing, a certificate, and a St Francis medal. There is a reception with treats for human and beast, and an animal adoption fair in the parish hall.

The church address is: Grace Episcopal Church, 100 Genesee Street, Lockport NY 14094. Checks can be made out to Grace Church, with “pet food pantry,” or “Code Blue for Pets” written on the memo line.

Please consider donating to such a worthy cause!  If you would like to do so, please CLICK HERE.

 

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Rev. Cindy with one of her own dogs
Rev. Cindy with one of her own pups

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97 thoughts on “This Church Will Take Care of Your Pets – Especially if You Can’t

  1. Not only does this church run a PET FOOD pantry, but “…once a month, parishioners are welcome to bring their pets to the Sunday service.” I can only hope that my pastor, Lance R Zaerr Jr, is reading this. Sure, it’s crazy talk. Pet food. Pets in church. It is crazy, right?

  2. Your country is very lucky to have that kind of church. Now, I am sure no more pets will be abused or neglected, all they can do is to bring their unwanted pets in that kind of “Heaven”. God bless all the people for their efforts in building such a wonderful church + all the people who are taking care of those poor neglected, unwanted, abused animals.

  3. I always considered church a hospital for sinners. Not this church. God would be so proud of you all and so would his son. I’m absolutely sure of that. Thank you for your kindness .

  4. Wow, a church that is enlightened and has compassion for all beings, that is awesome! I pray that other organizations that call themselves churches, will gain this level of enlightenment, and focus on compassion for all beings, and stop judging and hating!

  5. WoW ! Hats off to Grace Episcopal Church of Lockport, NY. The first thought most churches would have would be the liability! You know what…….I love what you do…..All churches need to follow your example! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

  6. A place like that might actually get me to go to church! Doubt there’s one like that here in Idaho. It’s not an area known for loving animals. They are not cherished & protected much here. Just considered livestock usually.

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