Gravata, Brazil is a city with a large number of stray dogs that are without a forever and loving home.
But, this priest decided to help these souls -he invites them into the church and includes them in his service regularly in hopes of helping them in the search for a family.
Father Joao Paulo Araujo Gomes is a head of the parish of Santana and brings some of these dogs to Sunday mass hoping to motivate families to adopt them.
The dogs can be seen at the centre stage where visitors can see them well and maybe want to make them a part of their homes.
The sweet pooches often fall asleep at the altar, some are looking for belly rubs, and others are patiently waiting. If only all Sunday services did this, right?
When Did It All Start?
Father Joao explains that a lot of the stray dogs from his community have been adopted thanks to his initiative.
Dozens of dogs now have loving homes and he’s also fostered several strays himself. In an interview, he said that he’s helped several dogs with severe health issues too.
He said that the idea came to him when someone offered him cookies and he left them in the church and attendees ate them. This inspired him to do a similar thing with a kennel that had 96 dogs up for adoption.
This is when he started to bring in the dogs to mass, in hopes of being ‘taken away by the attendees same as the cookies were’.
Believe it or not, all of the dogs from this initial kennel were adopted in a period of six months.
He’s now focused on the stray dogs.
Joao Is an Animal Lover & a Fighter for Animals’ Rights
Today, he says they’re his children and he even allows them to sleep in his bed.
He’s also sending out a message to people who’re near this city to come and check out these sweet dogs and consider adopting them.
Father Joao has taken the project to social media and he’s sharing beautiful photos of the stray dogs when they’re at the vet’s, photos during Sunday mass with the dogs laying around the church premises, and Father Joao hugging with them in the yard of the church.
He Talks about Respecting Dogs during Service
When it’s service and the priest is preaching, he doesn’t forget to mention the dogs living on their streets and why and how we should protect and respect them.
The church is also involved in a castration project that helps reduce the number of stray dogs. They also help in case of emergencies like victims of violence or health issues.
Want to learn more about Father Joao’s animal projects? Check out his Facebook page.