A custom conducted in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures called the Blessing of Pets is a tradition dating to the fourth century.
Practiced regularly in Mexico and Spain, the city of Los Angeles was once believed to be the only city in the United States where the ceremony was performed on a large scale.
Now, 40 years after a flower-decked cow led a parade and sashayed down the streets in a city far away, Pawleys Island will host its own procession –this time with pooches leading the way to commemorate the move to a new facility for All 4 Paws Animal Rescue.
Saturday marks the day the dogs will march from 67 Waverly Road to 708 Petigru Road, but, “no cow,” said founder Shannon Prouty.
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Prouty noted there would be plenty of parking, raffles and door prizes along with Pawleys Island Ice Cream and tours of the new facility.
“It’s incredible and so exciting,” Prouty said of the new digs, which is complete with state-of-the-art equipment.
The dog and cat runs “are just amazing” said volunteer and videographer John Perret, who added “If I was a cat, I’d be chillin’ in one of them.”
That it’s taken a mere 21/2 years to “create a footprint” and “facilitate growth of the rescue community – is a blessing I never could have imagined,” said Prouty, who also explained the new facility will enable them to help others learn through educational programs they plan to offer for the community as well as other rescue facilities.
“All 4 Paws is a dog and cat rescue organization that addresses the physical and emotional needs of abandoned animals through an evolving holistic approach,” according to the website. “As a compassionate no-kill rescue organization, we strive to save and place as many homeless, abandoned, and abused animals as possible while being a responsible community resource.”
To date, the website said they have saved more than 4,000 animals.
Prior to being adopted, all animals are spayed, neutered, micro-chipped, current on vaccinations, de-wormed, heartworm or FIV tested, current on heartworm and flea prevention, receive dental and blood work if needed and also receive a full physical exam from a board-certified veterinarian.
Applications for adoption and a full list of available pets can also be found and viewed on the website.
“It’s a wonderful group, they all have big hearts and they’re amazing,” John Perret said.
Perret, who teaches biology at Carolina Forest High School and also at Coastal Carolina University as an adjunct professor, said daughter Leta, 9, works at the rescue as a junior volunteer.
Leta became involved with All 4 Paws “because they allow kids the opportunity to get hands-on experience – creating the next generation of animal rescuers,” Perret said, adding that Leta creates profile videos of the animals for the Facebook page.
Dad and daughter have been active at All 4 Paws since May.
Sneak peeks of the upcoming grand opening have been posted on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/All4PawsSC as teasers because Prouty has tried to keep the rest “top secret,” saying she “wanted it to be a surprise celebration.”
“We can’t wait,” said Perret.