Well, That's Something I Never Thought Of

Small Business February 11, 2010, 5:00PM EST text size: TT

Caring for Pets Left Behind by the Rapture

For a fee, this service will place your dog or cat in the home of a caring atheist on Judgment Day

Many people in the U.S.—perhaps 20 million to 40 million—believe there will be a Second Coming in their lifetimes, followed by the Rapture . In this event, they say, the righteous will be spirited away to a better place while the godless remain on Earth. But what will become of all the pets?

Bart Centre, 61, a retired retail executive in New Hampshire, says many people are troubled by this question, and he wants to help. He started a service called Eternal Earth-Bound Pets that promises to rescue and care for animals left behind by the saved.

Promoted on the Web as "the next best thing to pet salvation in a Post Rapture World," the service has attracted more than 100 clients, who pay $110 for a 10-year contract ($15 for each additional pet.) If the Rapture happens in that time, the pets left behind will have homes—with atheists. Centre has set up a national network of godless humans to carry out the mission. "If you love your pets, I can't understand how you could not consider this," he says.

Centre came up with the idea while working on his book, The Atheist Camel Chronicles, written under the pseudonym Dromedary Hump. In it, he says many unkind things about the devout and confesses that "I'm trying to figure out how to cash in on this hysteria to supplement my income."

Whatever motivates Centre, he has tapped into a source of genuine unease. Todd Strandberg, who founded a biblical prophecy Web site called raptureready.com that draws 250,000 unique visitors a month, agrees that Fido and Mittens are doomed. "Pets don't have souls, so they'll remain on Earth. I don't see how they can be taken with you," he says. "A lot of persons are concerned about their pets, but I don't know if they should necessarily trust atheists to take care of them."

This paradox poses a challenge for Centre. He must reassure the Rapture crowd that his pet rescuers are wicked enough to be left behind but good enough to take proper care of the abandoned pets. Rescuers must sign an affidavit to affirm their disbelief in God—and they must also clear a criminal background check. "We want people who have pets and are animal lovers," Centre says. They also must have the means to rescue and transport the animals in their charge. His network consists of 26 rescuers covering 22 states. "They take this very seriously," Centre says.

One of Centre's atheist recruits is Laura, a woman in her 30s who lives near the buckle of the Bible Belt in Oklahoma, and who prefers not to give her last name. She has two dogs of her own and has made a commitment to rescue four dogs and two cats when—if—the time comes. "If it happens, my first thought will be, 'I've got work to do,'" Laura says. "The first thing I'll do is find out where I need to go exactly."

The rescuers won't know the precise location of the animals until the Rapture arrives, at which time they will contact Centre for instructions. "I've got to get to [the pets] within a maximum of 18 to 24 hours. We really don't want them to wait more than a day." A day she believes will never come.

Centre doesn't think he will ever have to follow through on the service he offers. But he believes in virtuous acts. His Web site directs about $200 a month in proceeds from Google ads to food banks in Minnesota and New Hampshire. And to pet owners, he has already delivered something of great value: peace of mind, for just 92 cents a month. "If we thought the Rapture was really going to happen," Centre says, "obviously our rate structure would be much higher."

Di Paola is a reporter for Bloomberg News .

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4 Responses Feb 15, 2010

Thanks for bringing that story to the attention of all here. <br />
I grew up in a church that by 1974 was all ready for the rapture-as the pastor said (and technically damned his soul to perdition) "it's gotta happen sometime in the 1980's". Many could be heard talking about the practical implications of being flung off into outer-space--sincere questions were asked, like: "how are we all going to meet in the air if Christians in China are going up and N. Americans going up as well, but in opposite directions?" Again, it was a sincere question that presumed everyone's take off projectory would be 90 degrees to the earth. Others would wonder if they might have the misfortune to hit the wing of an aircraft on the way up (who knows--the pilot may have been raptured and gone off course).<br />
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The problem is, when I began hearing of this teaching (seemingly every Sunday night) I was 7 or 8 years old. I was too young to have this slapped into my face and have to assume it was the truth along with everything else.<br />
For that reason, why bother doing well in school, why bother cleaning ones room, why bother living? Occasionally the sentiment would be answered with a "well, that's the way God would want it--keep on living as if it were not going to happen and keep those those tithes and offerings coming in". If my parents hadn't tithed and given so much to that church they could have placed the funds in an education fund for me and I know I could have made something of my life--but of course, why bother if it's all coming to an end?<br />
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I sometimes think about the gross misconduct of those that allowed this perverted teaching to be disseminated to one and all, regardless of age or sensitivity. They created an environment whereby I had good reason to forget about pursuing goals and make provision for 80 years or so of life.<br />
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I contemplate the possibility of suing that church for damages. Well, I wouldn't attempt to sue until they flat out rejected my request for millions of dollars in compensation. What I was told, was a lie and the bible proscribes the idea of trying to figure out the date of the great event.<br />
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I still believe Christ is coming back. He promised that. He never suggested pastors of churches would give advance warning--and scare the hell out of very young innocent children who'd never had the chance to know better.<br />
There's sexual abuse of children and there's also emotional abuse--they should all be open to legal consideration for compensation of willfill neglect of common sense to protect the innocence and raison d' etre of children. <br />
By the time I was 17 and had a car, I left that church and went to a very rare Baptist church that didn't necessarily believe in Pre-Mil vomit and never taught it.--If anything they doubted it and saw no evidence in sc<x>ripture for a rapture.<br />
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Thanks for reading and think about the damage this novel concept of the rapture may have created in your life.

WOW looks like somone came up with a god plan to have some monies!!! he will by the devil a beer and clean kitty litter!! that is if cat and dogs do stay behind which i do not believe they will. lol

How many people committed enough to Chritianity to believe in the Rapture are going to trust their pets to an atheist? They eat cats (and babies) don't they?<br />
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People will take every possible opportunity to exploit others' love for their pets, and gullibility.<br />
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And where does it say you can't bring your dog with you on Judgement Day?

that`s brilliant