Hundreds of people, pets gather at Olvera Street for annual Blessing of the Animals

Cardinal Roger Mahony finishes blessing a llama at the 2010 Blessing of the Animals.
Cardinal Roger Mahony finishes blessing a llama at the 2010 Blessing of the Animals. Marla Schevker/KPCC
It was like something out of the story of Noah’s Arc, minus the rain and intense need for a boat. Llamas, fish, iguanas, dogs, cats, horses, birds, bulls, chickens, cows and their owners met on Olvera street for the annual Blessing of the Animals. In honor of the Easter holiday, hundreds of pet owners brought their pets to get blessed by Cardinal Roger Mahony.

April 3, 2010 brought the Blessing of the Animals to Olvera Street. Hundreds of pet owners gathered so Cardinal Mahony could bless their pets with good health and good fortune for the next year.

Office Manager Kate Ruppert came with her 7-month-old Sphinx, Smalls. Smalls had open-heart surgery when she was just a few weeks old and Ruppert is trying anything she thinks may help Smalls to live a long life. “The bishop blesses her with good health for the rest of the year,” Ruppert said. “She could use that. She started her life out a little rough but she bounced back and she’s awesome. So, we’re taking precautions.”

Blessing of the Animals from 89.3 KPCC on Vimeo.

In addition to the blessing ceremony, there were traditional Latino dancers performing and booths set up organizations such as the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. Chris Miller, programs assistant for the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, was hatching grunion eggs with people who passed by. The aquarium collected them from the shores of San Pedro and brought them to day both for educational purposes and for fun. “What I do is go through the whole process, the life cycle of the grunion,” he said. “We hatch the fish with them and I can explain which eggs will hatch and which won’t, when they lay their eggs. It’s a part of our grunion program. We’re going off of the whole Easter thing, so we’re hatching eggs.” All of the grunion that were hatched today are being released back into the wild tonight and Miller said he was going to take them to be blessed. “I think they can use a little help when we release them back into the ocean tonight,” Miller said. “We’ll go have them blessed, that way they’ll have that little bit of extra protection.” A lot of what this blessing provides is peace of mind for pet owners. Management Consultant Sandy Stiemblums raises puppies intended to be guide dogs. As a puppy raiser, Steimblums is responsible for teaching the puppy basic obedience and getting them used to other dogs before they go in for formal training. Her puppy, Sammie, is 15 months and will be going in for formal guide dog training next month. “I think the blessing is something that might help her as she goes forward in life,” Steimblums said. “I’m going to miss her. The blessing gives me peace of mind-- anything to help them along the way.” Robert Alaniz, director of communications for the Los Angeles Unified School district, brought his recently adopted two huskies and mutt to the blessing for the first time. He, like Ruppert, believes the blessing will bring good health and good fortune for his dogs. “We adopted [the huskies] and they’ve both had leg surgery so we want to be sure that they are blessed and full of good health moving forward,” Alaniz said. “The blessing is a tradition in the Catholic church. Today is the animals' day.”
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