Animal Career Secrets explores Animal Clergy & Animal Chaplains

In this post at Animal Career Secrets readers learn about some new animal careers tied into religion and spirituality. All content copyrighted 2007 by Diana L Guerrero. Some rights reserved.

Last week everyone learned that Oprah’s golden retriever died in May. Pet loss is a tragedy and today there are new types of careers with animals emerging to address the needs of pet parents.

You probably thought it was strange that I wrote about the pet funeral director career—but it is part of the growing field for people who are supporting pet parents through pet loss. Since I spent the last two years researching the trend related to animal blessings and other pet celebrations, I thought I would pass along some of that information.

One of the emerging fields is that of clergy who provide animal services. I’ll give you a short overview and then get a little bit deeper into similar trends within this area in upcoming posts.

Pet clergy are ministers who specialize in services for pets. They might pray over sick animals (asking for health or healing), conduct blessings of animals, or provide comfort while presiding over services at pet memorial services or burials.

Traditionally pet services are incorporated into existing religious institutions. Many different paths are now allowing animals to come into their services with their owners, while some are actually providing services specifically to attract the pet owning public into their fold.

More traditional ministers and rabbis are barking mad over the trend. Rigid viewpoints or insensitive comments such as this one over the death of Oprah’s dog offend those whose pets have become furry family members.

It appears that the more non-traditional practitioners are picking up the slack but some practices of animal blessing services go back to the 4th century—the current trend is not new but HOW it is emerging is novel.

I expect to see a rise in the number of ministers who provide pet services as part of their outreach to the community and as a service that will meet the needs of their congregations. However, I am also aware of the new trend of pet specific training for those who want to have such a ministry.

Recently I learned that two of my books are being used to train clergy for animal related ministries or services. The Interfaith Animal Clergy program offers a training course for ordained member of the clergy and other religious leaders. It is not an ordination but a course for those who are already working ministers or rabbis.

This is part of a larger trend that began in late 2003 when the American Academy of Religion (AAR) discussed animals in religion at their annual conference. AAR subsequently formed The Animals in Religion group—which remains one of the most popular committees within the membership of AAR. You can view some of the animal in religion topics in this call for papers for the 2007 annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion.

So, if you are a spiritual seeker or want to become more involved in religious practices–and also love animals–this might be a career path to pursue. Religious training varies according to the path you take.

There are numerous college programs that can take you through to a Doctorate in Divinity–and other similar titles. In some religious circles you can study through the church or through ministers to earn your certification.

If you currently attend a specific denomination, or practice a specific spiritual path, start your search with your current leadership. It will certainly be an invigorating journey since the passionate stances related to animals in religion vary greatly!

Diana L Guerrero is an animal career specialist and has extensive experience in many areas of the animal world. A well known animal expert, she has worked professionally with animals for over thirty years. Guerrero is the author of several books and the host of the syndicated, Ark Animal Answers.

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