l am an animal lover just like you. For myself, when I loose a beloved pet, it is the most gut-wrenching feeling I have ever experienced. The loss, the pain. The loss of a loved one ranks high on the list of stressors in life. Now add the fact that this loss, a loss of a pet, is one of unconditional love. I find this stifling. I personally have found comfort in the evidence that animals are important to God and that they will be in heaven.
Allow me to share with you a little bit about who I am … and who I am not. I am a Christian and deeply devoted to Jesus. I’m not a theologian, although I have at times contemplated studying theology in school and may yet do so someday. I am not a noted biblical scholar, though I suspect that the amount of hours I’ve logged combing through the many versions of the Bible over seven long years could bring me close to becoming an expert on this subject matter. After all, this is not a subject taught in seminary.
Professionally, I’m an airline pilot. I fly 747s to such far-off destinations as Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, and Beijing. If you have ever worked under the union label, as I still do to this day, you can appreciate how I often tell those who know me that the Bible is my “union contract.” As I have sought answers and evidence in response to the question of whether animals go to heaven, I have remained bound to the Bible as my guide and source.
I would also call myself a proud, lifelong animal lover. Though I currently live in Southern California, I grew up in Virginia, in a region populated with equestrian racetracks. By age eight, I had progressed beyond pony rides to the point where I would walk right into a racehorse facility and insist to anyone I met that I could ride their horses. By the time I was twelve, I was riding those horses. I went on to become a competitor in jumping and eventually became a full-time dressage rider, competing at the international level and earning the Silver Medal Lifetime Achievement Award from the United States Dressage Federation. I have studied natural horsemanship under the guidance of renowned horse whisperer Pat Parelli. I have limited experience with marine mammals as well. I am a certified dog obedience trainer through the Animal Behavior College. Currently I own four horses and two dogs, including a German shepherd that I trained in police protection. I still own a dog training business, and I once was fortunate enough to receive many referrals through an organization recommended by Cesar Millan, TV’s famed “Dog Whisperer.”
How does this experience qualify me to write on this subject matter? There is a dark side to the world of animal training. Perhaps this has contributed to my desire to explore the fate of many poor animals, who are at the mercy of others. Most animal training is unsuccessful. Six million dogs a year are euthanized in shelters. Many animals in marine tanks or zoos have neurotic behavior due to the confinement of their captivity. Depression is not limited to humans. People who adopt or who advocate for the needs of these animals have a hard time dealing with the negative consequences that often result in working with the unwanted or the imprisoned. I have been surprised by phone calls of those trying to come to terms with an animal’s demise. The afterlife becomes relevant. I can only speak in regard to my believe system, however I found that my words and research have offered guidance and satiated the need for intrinsic comfort.
Throughout this journey I have also had to deal with those who are unconscious to the suffering even when they claim to have a religious fiber. Anytime religion is in the forethought, accountability is its dance partner. I see religious forethought often, without accountability. My strongest voice is to stop the suffering of all mammals, ourselves included. I do not actually believe that it is that hard, except for one problem, that little tick in the human brain that lead Adam and Eve to the apple…
It is apparent that animals matter to me. When one of my pets or any animal I have loved dies, I grieve the loss. Most of us who love our animals mourn their passing as we would any departed loved one. The bond is that strong. Knowing that our animals will be in heaven with us can lift our spirits and inspire us to become ever more grateful for God’s grace, God’s mercy… and his call to heaven.