Main Street News

Rhinebeck Hosts Blessing of the Animals on May 18

By Published On: May 8th, 2024

On Saturday, May 18, the Third Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rhinebeck, NY will be hosting their annual Blessing of the Animals event. 

For 109 years, Americans have been celebrating “Be Kind to Animals Week,” which is the oldest commemorative week in United States history. It was started by American Humane, an organization that was founded in 1877 and is committed to ensuring the safety, welfare, and well-being of animals. 

Rosemary Hradek started the Blessing of the Animals event last year to “make people empathize and care” about all kinds of pets. Rosemary, who worked on the board of the Animal Care and Control in New York City for a year, has always had a deep love for animals. 

She believes, “Pets are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.” 

This year, in addition to the blessing of the animals, there will also be a community pet remembrance tree. People are invited to adorn the tree with loving tributes to their pets who have passed. They can place items such as pet toys, leashes, photos and notes, paw prints, cards, and other memorials on the tree in memory of their loving companions.  

The tree will officially be in place on May 5 located under the church portico near the mailbox.. Tributes can also be placed in the drop-off box ahead of time, delivered to the church on Sunday mornings, or mailed to the church office at Third Lutheran Church, 31 Livingston Street, Rhinebeck, NY 12572. 

“The motivation for this symbolic tree is to acknowledge the grief that people experience when they lose a pet,” Rosemary explained. “It’s okay to have, show, and work through feelings of loss. Anyone who has lost a pet knows that there is always a little something that never goes away, and everyone should know they are not alone.”

The blessing ceremony is a hands-on, individual experience administered by Pastor James Miller. All furred, finned, feathered, and scaled friends are invited to attend with their companion humans. All animals must be properly escorted – leashed, kenneled, harnessed, etc.

In addition to the blessing ceremony, the church’s great lawn will be filled with community-based rescue, service and shelter organizations providing visitors the opportunity to meet and interact with their individual Animal Ambassadors. 

A long list of exhibitors will be present including Dr. Laura Jaworski, veterinarian, wildlife rehabilitator, educator, and falconer, with Lazarus, her  seven-year-old Eurasian eagle owl.

Additionally, The Ridge School, based out of Salt Point, NY, will be available to discuss the school’s programs with their mascot Shilo, a specially trained autism therapy dog. He will be available for belly rubs and to educate the community about his job.

Hope Farm Animal Rescue Inc., Blind Dog Rescue Alliance, Incredible Pups Pet Rescue, and the Animal Farm Foundation Organization will also be in attendance as well as a New York State Police Canine Working Unit.

Holly Mentzer, a board-certified music therapist working for Hudson Valley Hospice, will be at the ceremony to discuss the importance of music to calm homebound patients and anxious animals alike.

Countryside Animal Hospital is sponsoring  a free “Ask the Vet” table to answer questions about medical issues, general care, and grooming. Partnership for Animals Needing Transition is an all-volunteer organization working to reduce feral and abandoned cat populations and they always has adoptable felines looking for loving homes.

Southlands Foundation, a mainstay of the Rhinebeck equestrian community, will be there to highlight many of their interactive programs. One of their programs is Mommy & Me, in which children aged three and older and accompanied by a parent, learn how to approach, care for, respect, and love horses. Visit their table to find out more information regarding additional special programs that accommodate all age groups and levels of riders. 

A raffle to support American Humane sponsored by Harney & Sons, Adams Fairacre Farms, and Manhattan-based The Emporium Ltd. will be available.

“It’s a free and fun day even if you don’t have a pet.” Rosemary said. “I always believed it’s great to learn something new every day and this has that potential.”

“The Blessing of the Animals” will be held on Saturday, May 18th from noon to 4pm at the Third Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rhinebeck. The rain date is Sunday, May 19th  from 1pm to 5pm. Contact Rosemary Hradek with any questions at