Volunteers work on and pray over the no-sew blankets, which have comforted more than 3,000 animals.
Posted in , Jun 25, 2021
In July 2019, Penny Layne fostered two female dogs and their 17 puppies for Pet Search Rescue in Washington, Pennsylvania. One litter needed to be bottle-fed every two hours, around the clock. She recruited 54 volunteers to help. One of them, Hanna Harshell, made fleece blankets for each mom and puppy to take to their adoptive homes.
What’s even more special about the blankets is that Hanna prayed as she made them, asking God to watch over the animals. She even prayed for another volunteer’s dog who was having a leg amputated.
“It was such a special idea,” says Penny, who lives in the Pittsburgh area. “The volunteers suggested we make blankets for all injured, ill and recuperating animals. Hanna taught me how to make them, and we both taught the volunteers.” That’s how Pittsburgh Pet Prayer Blankets came together in the summer of 2019.
Penny does more than foster and make blankets for pets and their people. She’s a nationally certified professional dog trainer and, along with her husband, Shawn Murtha, who cofounded the blanket project, a certified pet loss companion.
Pittsburgh Pet Prayer Blankets has exceeded expectations. Penny credits the group’s 40 dedicated volunteers who make the no-sew blankets, deliver them locally and pray for the recipients. “Everyone pitches in to give love and comfort to the families,” she said.
By spring 2021, volunteers had made more than 3,000 blankets for dogs, cats, ferrets, pigs, a horse and a kangaroo in Kansas. In addition to providing blankets for individuals and local shelters and rescues, the group made 110 little fleece tents for guinea pig rescues.
Donors sponsor the blankets (one person donated a truckload of fleece) and shipping charges for blankets mailed out of the region—once even to Ireland. Before Covid-19 restrictions, volunteers gathered at a social hall to make blankets and pray together. Now they work from their homes.
Blankets come with prayer cards for the animal’s health or its adoption, and with tags naming who made and delivered them. It’s not only the volunteers praying; the group’s 1,800 Facebook followers offer support as well. Penny knows all about that. Her Chihuahua mix, Punkin, was born prematurely in 2019 and received many well wishes.
“I rescued her mother and 17 hours later, she had a puppy,” Penny said. “Punkin was the size of my thumb and I fed her with a sponge. Of course, she received a blanket. She’s our mascot because she shows that anything is possible with prayer.”
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