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Do animals have souls?

Do pets have some form of eternity?

We don't know. No one (for now) does. Someday, we'll find out. It is argued by certain theologians that the answer is no.

Others argue the opposite. They say that animals have a spiritual aspect and back it up through the experiences of St. Francis, who seemed able to communicate telepathically with wild beasts (and whose statue in Assisi is the roost of actual doves). On St. Francis day, animals are blessed.

But because something is blessed, does that means it has a spiritual existence?

Those who say yes also back it up with near-death experiences: a good number of those who claim to have glimpsed eternity bring back accounts of encountering not only lost loved ones, but, on occasion, deceased pets.

Often this occurs in that "tunnel" or passage to the Light of Heaven and God or in the bucolic countryside so many describe on which they are reunited with deceased relatives.

"The tunnel was dark, and every once in a while something looking like lightning would flash across my path," a girl named Lynn who "died" at 13 during open-heart surgery told near-death researchers. "These flashes were brilliant in color and didn't scare me. At the end of the tunnel was a bright light. From the light came two dogs of mine. One was a collie named Mimi who had died three years previously from an infection, and the other was a boxer named Sam who had died two years before after being hit by a car. The dogs came running and jumped on me and kissed my face with their tongues. Their tongues weren't wet, and I felt no weight when they jumped on me. The dogs seemed to glow from a light that was inside them. I recall saying to myself, 'Thank you, God, for letting my dogs be alive.' I hugged my dogs as tight as I could."

Animals certainly have some kind of a role and whatever the case for their afterlives, they are not to be abused nor extinguished here on earth. At the same time, they are not to be idolized. It can get extreme when now there are gourmet snacks for dogs or a special airlines for them!

All in balance.

But getting back to that spiritual aspect:

 There are dogs who wail at the moment when an owner dies -- or won't leave the grave.

 There are cats that seem to sense spirits and know an owner's thoughts.

 There are birds that arrive at peculiar moments.

 We had our own little experience just recently.


Every morning, we feed birds, especially doves. We usually have a fifty-pound bag, and recently it ran out. At the very bottom, scraping for the last of the seed, there was found a faded, weathered little piece of paper. To our amazement, it was a little holy picture of St. Francis and the doves!

Who put that in a bag of commercial bird seed?

(And what did it mean?)

At Betania in Venezuela, apparitions of the Blessed Mother were often accompanied by the appearance of a blue butterfly.

What are your own stories?

In our own time, there is the real crisis of so many animals tottering toward oblivion. In Africa, they count the number of rhinos and chimps and gorillas at under a thousand. Marauders (often at the behest of China) ravage them. More than seventy million sharks are killed each year. Rich kids from America slay elephants and rare buffalo for kicks.

Is it not right to treat animals with respect? Are they not part of Creation?

Look at the biblical role (for example, on the Ark) of ravens and doves. Did the Lord speak through even a donkey?

Read Susi Pittman's theological arguments, in her well-researched book, Animals in Heaven?, on whether animals live forever. Or dig into some of those mystical happenings. Recent studies show that animals such as African Gray parrots not only mimic words but know many meanings of those words and seem to think certain things out.

Is there a thought process?

No one can be sure.

We can surmise one thing: it is  certainly okay to bless them, and God did not create creatures for us to drive into extinction.

[resources: Animals in Heaven?]

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