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Kittanning church to bless pets to raise funds for animal shelter

Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
The Rev. Carl Johnson, pastor of St.John's Lutheran Church in Kittanning, will conduct a blessing of the animals service, Saturday July 27 to benefit Orphans of the Storm animal shelter.

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Friday, July 26, 2013, 1:01 a.m.

A Kittanning church hopes its blessing of pets can help animals in need at the Orphans of the Storm animal shelter.

St. John's Lutheran Church, 218 N. Jefferson St., plans to bless pets, while collecting free will donations on Saturday, from 10 a.m. until noon, in its North McKean Street parking lot during its annual Blessing of the Animals.

The Rev. Carl Johnson, pastor, who plans to officiate the blessing, said the event is part of the church's monthy social ministry, which aims to collect money or supplies to help charitable organizations and local families.

The church began collecting pet food and monetary donations for Orphans of the Storm at the beginning of July, Johnson said.

“We've been blessing animals for about five or six years, and the idea comes from St. Francis of Assisi, who is the patron saint of animals,” Johnson said. “We pray for the pet and the owner, and thank God for all of his creatures.

“It's a fun time to recognize how great of an impact animals have on pet owners.”

Johnson said cats and dogs are the most common animals at the blessing, though he's also blessed a rabbit and several horses.

Orphans of the Storm is housing 105 dogs, 40 adult cats and 72 kittens, according to assistant manager Bethann Galbraith.

“We're at a normal level of cats and kittens, but we currently have more dogs than usual,” Galbraith said.

“People just aren't getting their dogs spayed or neutered and don't realize what kind of a committment and responsibility it takes to own a pet.”

Johnson, whose family adopted two dogs from the shelter, said several members of the church volunteer at the shelter or have pets from it, which helped influence their decision to help the shelter.

“They provide a real service to the animals in our area,” Johnson said.

Galbraith said the shelter is grateful for donations and is trying to save enough money to purchase a new building. The organization plans to continue accepting donations of supplies and money for its general fund, which covers day-to-day costs for the animals, and its hope fund, which provides medical care for its residents, she said.

“No matter what, everything that comes in goes toward helping the animals,” Galbraith said. “Any help we can get is badly needed.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or

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