If you love God and animals, Sunday was the day for you and your pet in Eau Claire. Sacred Heart Hospital held its annual "Blessing of the Animals" on the hospital's west lawn Sunday afternoon, followed in the evening by the inaugural "Paws for a Cause" fundraiser.
Some pet owners brought their dogs, and one even brought her guinea pigs to be blessed. The blessing is held each year in honor of saint Francis of Assisi and his love for all of gods creatures. Organizers said people enjoy the event and many of them return year after year.
"People enjoy animals, I mean not everybody, but they really do. Looking around you can see how important these pets are to the people, that is good,” Father John A. Schultz told News 18.
A similar event was also held Saturday at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls.
Later, community members came to honor both living and deceased pets at "Paws for Cause" The event gave animal lovers an opportunity to reserve a light on a special tree in their pets name. Organizers said it is a way for pet owners to show how much they love their animals.
All of the proceeds will help Eau Claire, Chippewa and Dunn counties food pantries. The donation will go towards purchasing pet food for those in need, who also have pets. Organizers said they know that in many cases a animal can mean as much to person as a family member.
“Anyone who has ever had a pet knows how they feel when they come home at the end of the day, and there's their loving furry family member, who's just there to provide unconditional love and support,” Mary Pengra, director of Volunteer Services at Sacred Heart, told News 18.
Hospital officials reported that they have already surpassed their goal of $1,000 and they hope to make "Paws for a Cause" an annual tradition much like the "Blessing of the Animals".