Blessings will be bestowed on animals on Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the Catholic patron saint of animals.  One doesn’t have to be religious to know the blessings of four-footed companionship. But people of faith must extend their concern beyond beloved pets, according to author Laura Hobgood-Oster. Her new book, “The Friends We Keep: Unleashing Christianity’s Compassion for Animals,” is set for release on Oct. 1 and it shares how God’s mandate of kindness and care for the less fortunate includes the animal world. We reap what we sow.  Consider the ecological degradation caused by monoculture fish farming when badly practiced.  Likewise, inhumane animal treatment inside ‘factory farms’ and slaughterhouses affects consumer health. The disappearance of animal habitats and rain forests is a global scourge.

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