The following story first appeared on Examiner.com and is being reposted here with the author’s permission.
Susana Escayola has been a lifelong animal lover and instrumental in many dog rescues as well as fund raisers to benefit rescues.
In 2013 she decided to start her own animal advocacy program called St. Francis Animal Stewards. Escayola based this program on the philosophy that we are all here to be stewards for animals and a voice for them, especially domestic pets. The program is named to honor the popular Catholic saint St. Francis of Assisi but will be interdenominational.
The organization is set up to work through local churches, schools, as well as an independent entity.
Susana, a resident of Surfside, Florida has degrees in art, philosophy and religion. She has always had a love for St Francis, the patron saint of animals which prompted her to name her organization in his honor. This way she could combine her love of animals with her spirituality.
Some of the programs SFAS offers are food collections at local churches during their annual blessing of the animals. During that weekend parishioners would be asked to bring in a bag of pet food (dog, cat, or horse food) which would then be distributed to the local animal charities and shelter.
Susana believes that it is not only necessary to provide food and funding for local rescues but that education is also an integral element in the fight against animal abuse. St. Francis Animal Stewards would also offer programs for schools.
The R.E.A.D .DOGS program is a group of therapy dogs who work with their handlers in schools, libraries and other settings teaching children to read by having them read to a dog.
The Book Drive would collect religious books depicting animals such as the story of St. Francis and Noah’s Ark and donate them to schools. The books would serve to educate on Catholic/Christian theology as well as depict the important roles we serve in the Creator’s plan for the earth.
“Volunteer for the Animals” would be another school based program offered by St Francis Animal Stewards. The program is an ideal way to teach children to give back at an early age as well as teach respect for all God’s creatures. Many local charities rely heavily on volunteers. SFAS would find volunteer opportunities suitable for specific age groups. As a project, schools could adopt an animal charity, learn about their work and raise money for that organization. The schools would earn community service credits through program participation.
Susana also believes community outreach is an important part of any animal welfare organization. In these tough economic times many people have lost everything, they should not have to lose their pets also. SFAS will offer programs to keep pets and families together. This will help the shelters from being overpopulated as well as save the lives of dogs and cats that would otherwise be euthanized. Some of the programs to benefit low income families will be a low cost vaccine and spay/ neuter services, a Pet Soup Kitchen to collect and distribute pet food to members of a food assistance program.
In addition to these wonderful programs, Susana has other great plans for St. Francis Animal Stewards and making it a top notch community outreach program to benefit both humans and animals.
Please help Susana by supporting St. Francis Animal Stewards. She can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or via facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StFrancisAnimalStewards.
A Prayer for Animals
Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals,
especially for animals who are suffering;
for animals that are overworked, underfed and cruelly treated;
for all wistful creatures in captivity that beat their wings against bars;
for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry;
for all that must be put death.
We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity,
and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion
and gentle hands and kindly words.
Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals,
and so to share the blessings of the merciful.
Suggested by the author