Lifestyle Pets, Animal Welfare

Remember Lost Pets at Faithful Pets Memorial Park in Mills River

Pet Park. Photo by Kathy Ziprik courtesy of Mills River Presbyterian Church

Mills River Presbyterian Church has celebrated the bond between people and pets for 14 years with its annual Blessing of the Pets. The widely attended event has given way to the creation of Faithful Pets Memorial Park, a new space on the church’s property where people can reflect on the love they shared with lost pets. “It gives people a quiet location to remember the joys the pet has brought to them,” says church member Kathy Ziprik. “We hope this memorial park gives people a specific location to relax with their memories and prepare for a time when they’re ready to welcome another pet into their life.”

The park features a bench and an homage to Rainbow Bridge, a poem that depicts owners rejoining their pets in heaven. “At the yearly pet blessing, people are encouraged to paint the name of a recently deceased pet on a colorful rock,” says Ziprik. “They add that rock to a rainbow pond. Those rocks are then permanently placed in the memorial park surrounding a tree base.” When Ziprik visits the park, she sees the rocks she placed in the pond for her senior rescue dogs Riley, Faith, Hope and Tulip. “It reminds me so much of how special they’ll always be to me,” she says. “For just a moment they’re back with me. That closeness is what the Faithful Pets Memorial Park is all about.”

The park is open to the public. “You can bring your pet with you to sit and reflect on a lost pet,” says Ziprik. “Or you can bring your own painted rock to set under the tree. Whatever brings you peace.”

Mills River Presbyterian Church is located at 10 Presbyterian Church Road in Mills River off School House Road and accessible from Haywood Road or Highway 280. For more information, call 828.891.7101 or visit


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