Father Joao Paulo Arujo Gomes has always loved dogs. He has rescued three fur children and fosters even more. His heart has always gone out to the strays in his community so he decided to step up and help the unwanted dogs find love.
He got the idea one day after some cookies were left out after mass. When hungry dogs wondered in and gobbled up the treats, he realized he could help shelter and find homes for the street dogs. He wondered if perhaps his parishioners would be touched by the dog’s plight as much as he was.
Since then, his church, the Paróquia de Sant’Ana Gravatá in Gravatá, has welcomed the strays and allows them to stay for mass. During Mass, the dogs are allowed to freely roam the church and even sit by the Alter.
“They will always be able to enter, sleep, eat, drink their water and find shelter and protection, for this house is of God and they are of God,” Father Gomes said on his Facebook page.
The result of the dogs and parishioners mingling together in the church is that 96 stray dogs were adopted in 6 months. A foster home has also been set up in the rectory where the strays are sheltered and given food and water. They are also provided veterinary care, if needed.
“I helped several dogs with serious health problems. Some of them I brought to the parish house and they were later adopted. Three of them stayed with me. Today, they are my childrena and sleep in my bed,” he said.
Since the church started saving dogs, the amount of strays running the streets has dramatically decreased. The congregation is happy helping the dogs and many now have rescued one.
The dogs have found a faithful advocate in the priest, who has no plans to stop working to get them off the streets and into loving homes. What a better world it would be if communities all over became so involved in helping stray animals.
“During service, we speak about dogs of the street, about how to respect and protect them. The church also helps with a castration project (to limit the number of stray dogs.) We also help dogs in emergencies such as victims of violence or health problems.”
To learn more about Father Gomes and his animal programs, visit his Facebook Page. Please share his story with your family and friends.