SITKA (AP) -- The pastor of St. Peter's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church welcomed animals, big and small, for the Blessing of the Pets.
The event is held each year to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis and the Italian saint who had a special way with animals.
Father Dave Elsensohn, who came to Sitka six years ago and has been blessing pets of all denominations each year since, said as many as 50 people have turned up to have their pets blessed.
''It's mostly cats and dogs, but I've had mice, fish and a snake,'' said Elsensohn, who has a cat named Teelo. ''Bring them down, we'll bless them.''
Christine Marie brought her cats Kay and Gabby, as well as her son Taylor, to their first blessing Sunday.
''I think almost everybody wishes at some point that they had this relationship with wild animals,'' Marie said. ''I did, certainly, but the closest I've ever been able to come is the relationship I have with my cats.''
Harriet Kinberg said her cat Peter was a ''real psycho,'' but being blessed seemed to have helped him.
''Father Dave came and did a home blessing because the cat was too rambunctious to bring in for the Blessing of the Pets,'' she said.
He mellowed out after that.
''He doesn't attack me anymore, he doesn't bite me anymore. It was amazing. That's the story of Psycho Peter -- he's turning slowly into Saint Peter,'' Kinberg said.
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