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More Celebrations Still To Come This Weekend!

8 October 2004

Animal Lovers Turn Out In Record Numbers For World Animal Week

More Celebrations Still To Come This Weekend!

The Royal New Zealand SPCA says that it's cheered and encouraged by the record crowds drawn to this year's World Animal Week celebrations.

The Society is also urging animal lovers in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to give their support to this Sunday's Animal Blessing Services, which will mark the week's finale.

"Not only have we had many new events across New Zealand, all of them drawing larger than expected numbers. Our established events have also tended to draw record attendances.

"For those of us who work for the SPCA and daily come across abused and neglected animals, it's a real tonic to see so many loved and well-cared for creatures of all species, shapes and sizes and to meet the people who share their lives and homes with them," says Acting Chief Executive, Jenny Prattley.

"At all World Animal Week celebrations you get the feeling that you are in very good company, both human and otherwise. The week isn't over yet and there will still be opportunities for animal lovers in our three largest urban centres to join in the celebrations by attending this Sunday's Animal Blessing Services, "she adds.

Auckland animals and their humans are invited to attend the long-established Animal Blessing Service at the church of St- Matthew-in-the-City. The service commences at 11.30 am on Sunday 10th October and is preceded by Breakfast in Albert Park at 9.00 am and by "The Great Animal Walk" which commences at 10.45 am.

Also this coming Sunday, Wellingtonian animals are invited to take their humans to an afternoon service at the historic St Hilda's Church, Upper Hutt. The service commences at 4.00 pm.

On the same day, Cantabrians have the opportunity to attend an Animal Blessing Service at St Peter's Church, Upper Riccarton, commencing at 9.30 am.

World Animal Week commenced on October 4th , which is also the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and lover of all creation. Celebrations, however, started a few days earlier, with Animal Blessing Services in churches, cathedrals and open spaces across New Zealand as well as with a range of non-religious events.

Last Sunday, St Mary's Pro-Cathedral in New Plymouth welcomed a congregation of more than 260 humans and 100 animals, including Bubber the Bulldog and Effie the Fox Terrier, both clad in tutus and angels' wings. The animals were notable for their sense of decorum, albeit that Joshua the Llama ate part of the flower arrangement.

In Christchurch, at least 300 people watched the Parade of the Animals around Cathedral Square and an estimated 150 humans joined dogs, cats, donkeys, a goat, a pig and a cockatoo for a joyful service inside the Cathedral. The gathering also included a calf who was christened Francis (Frank for short) by officiating clergy, in a ceremony marred only by Frank's discharge of bodily fluid.

At Nelson Cathedral, the Archdeacon, the Rev.Te Hawe Whakaruru, led a rousing multi-species chorus of "How Much is that Doggy in the Window?" whilst, at Tauranga's Te Puna Quarry, last weekend's springtime sun shone down on an open air gathering of approximately 150 local people and their furry and feathery friends.

In Thames, a special SPCA World Animal Week promotion has helped find loving homes for three cockatiels and a goat, as well as for several cats, dogs and rabbits, whilst Kerikeri's celebrated Muttley Dog Show attracted a record crowd of more than 300 people with over 100 show entries. World Animal Week events in Palmerston North, Masterton and Hamilton have been similarly well-attended.

"The increasing number of Animal Blessing Services and other events this year owes a great deal to the involvement of our national sponsor, PEDIGREE/WHISKAS. We are very grateful for the significant input they are making," says Jenny Prattley.

"When we read shocking newspaper accounts of the mindless cruelty meted out to some animals, we also need to remember the love, admiration and compassion so many people feel for the creatures who share our homes, our country and our world with us. These feelings are much in evidence during World Animal Week, making it a truly heart-warming time," she says.


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