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A minister is using her spiritual skills to help heartbroken owners say goodbye to their dying pets.
Shirley Wakefield, 58, is Britain’s first ‘pet minister’, holding memorial services and conducting prayers for owners as their beloved pets pass on to the other side.
The grandma-of-two, who lives on Marine Parade, Fleetwood, was ordained at Portland Street Spiritual Church in Southport and now uses her role as a minister to bring comfort to people grieving the loss of a pet.
She said: “Pets are family members. They mean just as much as a child to some people and when they go through the grieving process there’s nothing out there to help them.
“I believe there are many people who do need spiritual help when they lose a pet.
“People find it hard to say goodbye to a pet when it’s being put to sleep and I’m there to assure them that it’s going into good hands.”
Shirley was inspired to become a pet minister after holding holding a ‘pet blessing’ at Serendipity Spiritual Church at the Pensioner’s Hall in St Annes last year.
An animal-lover herself, Shirley owns two cross-breed dogs, Missy and Alfie.
She said: “Seeing all the pets was lovely and I knew then that it was my meaning in life to become a pet minister.
“If someone’s dog is very poorly and they want to let nature take its course, I can go to the house to do prayers and it puts the family at ease knowing that the dog is being looked after from above.
“It’s something to help the people come to terms with their pet’s death.
“If they are going to the vets I will go with them to provide support.
“If someone can’t bring themselves to go to the vets to see their pet pass away I can take the pet for them and they know it will be in safe hands.
“I can arrange a service for them if they want to bury the pet in the garden.
“It can be for any animal, whether its a dog, a cat or a rabbit.
“You see a pet come in very, very poorly and it helps the pet too. You have to be there to see it. At the end of the day I believe the pet also benefits from spiritual help.”
People who are interested in arranging a funeral service for their pet or want to be supported during their pet’s passing can contact Shirley online at www.petminister.yolasite.com.