For centuries, one question has tortured the most devote Christians: If Jesus Christ comes down to Earth, cracks the ground, and takes all the good souls directly to heaven, who will watch over their pets? What about Fido and Fluffy?
Well, there's good news and bad news. The good: One man has a business that caters to precisely that clientele. The bad news: His business doesn't cover South Florida, yet.
Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA promises, for an up-front fee of $110, to take care of your pets after you've received your heavenly rewards. The EEBP site boasts:
"Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus.
We are currently active in 22 states. Our representatives have been screened to ensure that they are atheists, animal lovers, are moral/ethical with no criminal background, have the ability and desire to rescue your pet and the means to retrieve them and ensure their care for your pet's natural life."
But we were curious why Florida isn't one of those states. The Sunshine State has plenty of good Christians and more than enough animal-friendly atheists. So we asked Bart Centre, the 61-year-old New Hampshire-based retired retail executive behind EEBP, a few questions over email. Here's how it went:
So, why not offer your service to the pets in Florida? In case of Rapture, wouldn't the animals so close to the ocean be in some of the worst danger?
Well, we started up last July and decided to stay small during our development stage. Our 26 rescuers are people known to my business partner and I, or are relatives. But we are accepting email applications for future consideration. Florida would be fertile ground for us.
You must have already received thousands of angry letters from Florida Christians, outraged that their pets might have to fend for themselves when Jesus returns. Do you feel guilty?
Yes, we get lots of letters from all over the country from Christians. Some of them even civil. But indeed, Florida Christians have shown an interest in our business offering, creative and some what non-Christian epithets, as well as the usual proselytizing.
Do you expect that with Florida's sinful ways, there might not be many people missing come Rapture time?
Well, if the Rapture did happen I assume Miami wouldn't know about it for at least a week or two after the fact, what with the Jewish population. Maybe not that long... since there would be no True Christians left to do the housework and maintain the yard.
What would you look for in a good atheist animal lover?
Our primary concern is that the atheist rescuer can pass our criminal background check, is committed to the project, takes his/her responsibilities seriously, and owns or has owned and loves pets. While we do not expect any of those responsibilities to ever have to be implemented, in the 500 trillion-to-one chance we are wrong and the Rapture believers and religionists are correct, we are committed to fulfilling our obligation.
At least one Juice staff member here is a devoted Unicornian. Does that mean he couldn't work for your service?
We hire only atheists, but we make exceptions for Unicornians and devotees of the FSM.
If End Times get bad enough, how can you guarantee that one of your representatives won't eat a pet?
Since we consider the possibility of Rapture to be so absurdly remote, we don't worry too much about that. The people we hire, however, would view such an act as tantamount to cannibalism.
In South Florida, people have some pretty strange pets (tigers, snakes, gators). Are there any pets you won't adopt?
We currently limit our contracts to dogs, cats, birds, and small caged mammals. We handle larger animals in four states. Many of our applicant hopefuls have indicated they would be willing to care for snakes and lizards. Owners of beloved gators will have to make other arrangements.
This dog is dressed to look like Sarah Palin. Would such a thing preclude post-Rapture rescue?
No. We don't care how vapid or mentally challenged a pet is... or how badly it dresses. If the owner cares enough to ensure its health and safety, we will rescue and care for it for our standard fee of $110 for a ten-year contract.
What do you suggest the worried pet owners in Florida do, since you don't offer your service here yet?
Sit tight and pray the Rapture doesn't happen until we have a presence in Florida. Or move to one of the 22 states we currently cover.
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What else should people know about your business?
The idea for this business was an outgrowth of a chapter in my book that mused about making money by offering a service to end-times believers, and a U.K. site that offered Rapture rescues that my business partner Brad thought was funny. The two things came together. When it comes to evangelical fundamentalist Christians and pet ownership, no country can come close to the USA.