Furry friends receive blessing at Humane Society event

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – More than 100 people brought their furry four-legged friends to the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County Saturday morning to receive a special blessing.

Among those in attendance were several K-9 officers and their partners.

“It’s nice to have the community’s support,” said Sebastian K-9 Officer Ritchie Revis after his partner of seven years, Logan, received the blessing.


The pair attended the blessing “just in case,” Ofc. Revis said. “You don’t want anything to happen.”

Sheriff’s Office K-9 Officer Brian Reimsnyder and his partner of five years, Jando, also expressed appreciation of the community’s support and being invited to attend.

“I was more than happy to come,” Ofc. Reimsnyder said.

The K-9 units received special recognition during the Humane Society’s annual Blessing of the Animals ceremony, with a reading of the poem, “Guardians of the Night,” about the bond between canine and handler.

A Schnauzer in the audience, Olive, punctuated the end of the poem with a couple short barks, almost as though she were paying tribute to the K-9s as well.

The 9-year-old Olive came to the blessing with her humans, Michele and Rich Buzzell, of Vero Beach. This was her first time receiving the blessing.

“I needed a blessing myself,” Rich said, joking.

“It was wonderful,” Michele said of the event.

While the vast majority of the animals that came to the event were dogs, a handful of cats were also in the audience, though many remained in their carriers.

One exception was Snuggles, a 5-year-old Ragdoll who never misses a blessing.

Mary Walters, of Vero Beach, said she brings Snuggles every year so that Snuggles can receive all the blessings she deserves. By bringing Snuggles, Walters said she can pay back all the blessings Snuggles has given her over the years.

Among the smallest of the animals brought to the blessing was 3-year-old Squirt, a Maltese-Yorkie mix often called a “Morkie.”

“Her name was supposed to be Hannah,” Jennie Risley of Vero Beach said. “But we liked ‘Squirt’ better.”

Risley said she’s always wanted to bring Squirt to the Blessing of the Animals but had not – until now – been able to fit it into their schedule.

“I want her to be safe,” Risley said, explaining why she chose to have Squirt blessed.

The Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County has been holding the Blessing of the Animals for approximately 15 years.

For the first time this year, though, the Humane Society had an orchestra play for the gathering. The Vero Beach High School Chamber Strings, led by Matthew Stott, performed between hymns and readings and while the dogs and cats received their blessings.

While most “Blessing of the Animals” type events are held as part of recognition of St. Francis of Assisi in October, the Humane Society has elected to hold its blessing in May as part of the National Be Kind to Animals Week.

For more information about the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County, how to help or to adopt, visit the organization at 6230 77th St., Vero Beach, call (772) 388-3331, or visit www.hsvb.org.

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