It was a day full of smiles with a lot of love given to four-legged family members.

Proud owners with pet birds, cats, dogs, even goats and horses lined up at Orca Park in Sylmar to receive a blessing from Father Rolly Astudillo and Pastor Colleen Rau.

This “Blessing of the Animals” was the first in the valley organized by the office of Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez.

The councilwoman brought her dog too — a furry, small white Maltipoo humorously named “Hercules.”

Photo Courtesy of the Office of Monica Rodriguez.

Adding to the event, staff from LA Animal Services offered vaccinations, microchipping, animal registration and pet adoptions. By the end of the day, more than 150 animals were microchipped, 10 animals registered and dozens of vouchers for spay and neutering were issued.

 The Blessing of the Animals, always held on the Saturday before Easter Sunday, first began in Los Angeles when the city was first established. LA began as a modest farming settlement and it was the intention to bless the livestock of farmers to keep them healthy and productive.

 The blessing later grew to include pet animals and what first started as a Catholic event has now become a community event that welcomes all faiths.

 Over the years, countless numbers of animals have been blessed at the much-loved annual tradition held at downtown Olvera Street. Last Saturday, however, was the first time a similar event was held at Orca Park.

“It was wonderful to have hundreds of families bringing their beloved pets to our first Blessing of the Animals event in CD7,” Rodriguez said. “I love creating these free events where our community can come together, be connected with valuable city services and put our community on the map for offering the most diverse cultural activities that celebrate the best of who we are.

“Thank you to everyone that joined us to make this first-ever event in the valley a tremendous success. It was a beautiful spring day for the entire family to enjoy with our beloved pet.”

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