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A blessing for the pets

If you follow in the steps of St. Francis of Assisi, as Donna Eakle does, then his feast week is NOT going to go by without a blessing of the animals.

After all, St. Francis was the patron saint of animals. His Feast Day was Oct. 4, one day before Eakle and others hosted a first-ever pet blessing at Joliet Township Animal Control.

While the blessing has been conducted for nine years at the University of St. Francis, Eakle thought it might be a good idea to move it to the dog/cat “pound.”

“We wanted to involve more of the community,” she said. “In years past we had it during the middle of the day and while faculty, staff and students could come, it was tough for the working public to come.”

Eakle, director of the Alumni and Parent Relations Office at USF, knew that Sarah Gimbel director of Animal Control, was a USF alumnae and she would be open to the idea. Eakle also has volunteered at the township facility.

Gimbel added a free micro-chipping event hosted by Lost Animals of Illinois out of Chicago.

“We wanted to make the community aware of how important micro-chipping is,” she said.

That’s almost an understatement.

“Last year, we reunited more than 6,000 dogs in the State of Illinois,” said Susan Taney of Chicago, who started this group in December of 2010. “And that frees up shelter space.”

The Rev. Pete Jankowski of St. Patrick Church was the priest for the event.

“The Catholic church has been doing this since the 13th century,” he said as he introduced himself to the crowd.

Jankowski also follows in the saint’s footsteps, with his basset hound, Rusty Joe Troublemaker. Rusty Joe was there to bark a big “Amen” to Father’s blessings whenever prompted. And he did so with great enthusiasm.

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