home / home / do dogs go to heaven? dr. ernie ward debates
Default image

do dogs go to heaven? dr. ernie ward debates

“Do dogs go to heaven?” the 5-year old girl asked me earnestly as her bright blue eyes dimmed a little. “I want to know if God will take care of Buster.”

In more than 20 years of being a veterinarian, this is perhaps the hardest question I’ve ever asked. The little girl was asking because it was time to say goodbye to the only pet she’d ever known.

Questions like this are tough, well, because I don’t know the answer. I can’t quote a scientific study or relay my personal experience in the matter. I can only offer what I believe to be true.

“Yes, Becky, I believe Buster will go to heaven. I also believe God will take very good care of her,” I replied, trying hard to hide the tremble in my voice.

“What do dogs do in heaven?”

“Well, I believe God made animals to play with us, help take care of us and to remind us that love is a very special thing. I know you loved Buster very much and I’m sure she loved you even more.” By now I could barely see through the tears welling in my eyes. Two beings, one animal and an innocent child, were reminding me what life was truly about.

“I love Buster so much. Do you think God can talk to her and make her happy? Will God make her all better?”

Buster had been battling bone cancer for several months. It hadn’t always been pleasant, between surgery and the side effects of her medications.

“Becky, God can talk to all animals and every person. In fact, when I close my eyes and listen very carefully, I think I hear God talking to me and telling me everything will be just fine. When Buster gets to heaven, I bet the first thing she’ll do is find a squirrel to chase!”

The tiny child turned away and sat down beside her best friend. She laid her head on Buster’s neck and began to whisper.

“Buster, you’re going to heaven now. I don’t want you to be scared because God is going to take good care of you. Thanks for playing with me and never getting mad, even when I hurt your leg that time. You’re the best friend in the whole world. I’m going to miss you.”

And with that she kissed Buster lightly, stood up and went to her mother.

I do believe dogs and cats go to heaven, despite the lack of scientific evidence. I know that the sacred bond we share with animals is something to be treasured. Few relationships in life give so much while asking so little. I find it hard to believe that something so special as love would be wasted in the cold, unfeeling universe. If God is love, then heaven is where that love goes. And if love is in heaven, that’s where we’ll find Buster.
Add a comment here
  • *indicates required field

  • read more »
Email sent Close

Thanks for leaving a comment on this page. It will now be sent to our administrator for approval and should be added to this site shortly.

Posted by karen nelson
on September 28 2015 20:27

Well, you certainly brought a tear to my eye! I've been in that scenario too many times with all the pets I had growing up on a farm and now having my own HOUSE pets!!! Martin Luther said this about dogs going to Heaven, "Be thou comforted, little dog, Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tale!" And we all know dog spelled backward spells GOD! ;-) Thank you for your wonderful story, and thank you for being G_d-fearing and spreading His word! Sincerely, Karen nelson

Posted by Bonnie Grenier
on September 26 2015 15:43

All dogs go to heaven, and cats, too. He ended is big enough to hold and love all of His creatures that He created.

Posted by Cathy Daugherty
on August 26 2015 16:05


Posted by Dr. Marcellus Gilreath
on August 26 2015 14:43

God loves animals. This is a fact. After all, He made them even before He made man. And in response to His creation of the animals, He stepped back and was pleased. He cared about their well-being and gave mankind to have benevolent dominion over them. Romans 8 suggests that Creation (our pets) groan to be liberated from their current condition and to be made new. Revelation says animals will be in Heaven praising God. I believe that our righteousness in Christ is imputed onto our pets. If heaven's joys are not complete without the comfort of a Heaven-sent pet, God will ensure our joy is full with an owner-pet reunion.

Posted by maryanne heck
on August 26 2015 12:42

My 12 yr old chocolate lab CoCo who had developed liver disease died in my arms this past October. That morning at Mass I asked the Good Lord to come and take her if she wasn't going to get better. That evening she shot up like someone had called her name she looked at me as to say that wasn't you,ran to the door laid down and started moving her legs like she was running. When she stopped, she passed. I have no doubt in my mind who called her.

Posted by Debbie Mattson
on December 19 2014 12:06

I never chose any kind of work with animals because it breaks my heart when they die. My hope is that they go to heaven. As a Christian I believe in the resurrection. Don't forget that after the Flood, God made a covenant with Noah AND the creatures promising to never destroy the world again. We believe that animals have souls like we do. Billy Graham also said the Lord promised that when we go to heaven, our joy will be complete and if for MY joy to be complete means to be reunited with a beloved pet then I will see him or her again. Hope this brings some comfort.

Posted by Celeste Noell
on December 18 2014 13:59

I believe our beloved pets go to heaven. Some one told me they go to the rainbow bridge and I believe it. Last August we had to let our beloved dog Trooper go he was 15 and all systems were failing it was so hard but I took my son and Trooper to the vet but I had to go to work. I kept thinking about him all day and doing a lot of crying then I looked up over the road and a big beautiful rainbow was across the sky and I knew right then that our best friend was in heaven.

Posted by Rosemary Potthoff
on December 17 2014 09:42

I know dogs go to heaven, they love unconditionally and there is nothing better then that. All my dogs that I have had and lost are there and I hope I get to see them when I go.

Posted by Vivian jacobson
on December 16 2014 13:12

I've wondered too, but Billy Graham says so, I believe now. I lost a special best friend ever 17 years ago, I still miss him daily. I lost 2 last year, kidney failure and old age I once had a dream I was with my very special friend, I remember smiling and being so happy and content. It seemed so real, but woke up and was sad I did, but then thought, I'm still alive, as I would have to be dead to be real. I'm waiting for that special day when I will see all my babies again. I miss and love them all terribly. So painful to loose them.

Posted by Lane Costin
on December 15 2014 22:12

A little over a year ago, my precious Snickers was taken from me. He had been a special gift to me after my father died. He was my comfort and peace when I didn't think I would ever find that again. He made me smile. I put up posters and ran ads and offered a reward. I checked the local shelters and still felt I was missing something. I literally tortured myself over his loss and not knowing was the hardest. I very rarely remember dreams but I had a vivid dream one night of my Daddy holding Snickers and telling me that he had him and he would take care of him. I do believe that animals go to heaven and I do believe my Dad and Snickers are together. Even though I miss him every day, I don't suffer the way I did before I had that dream. It brought an incredible sense of peace.

Posted by Wendy Smith
on December 15 2014 09:33

I just lost my beloved companion of 15 years " Kelly". Although my heart is broken I do believe one day we will meet again. I believe there is a "Rainbow Bridge" where all pets go if they pass before their human companion. And when we cross over we will be greeted joyfully by each one we have loved & cared for in our lives. To go through a life with something that gives so much love & understanding without uttering a single word is truly a miracle. They teach us so much . God Bless the Animals . xoxoxo

Posted by Dr. Pamela May
on December 14 2014 04:41

Beautiful Dr.Ward...

Posted by Donna Lawrence
on December 13 2014 09:40

Thank you for sharing this. I am going through

Posted by janet goree
on December 12 2014 20:49

I love you Dr. Ernie.

Posted by gene larson
on December 12 2014 12:47

And, Buoy will be there with Buster, Daisy, Gabe, and all the rest.

Posted by Peggy Drown
on May 12 2014 18:10

No dry eyes here. Such a beautiful story. Thanks.

Posted by Narda Tolentno
on May 08 2014 15:50

The thought that always sustains me is,if dogs aren't there, then it can't be heaven....... if there is a heaven.

Posted by Nola Chambers
on May 08 2014 13:24

I also believe that animals have souls and go to heaven. It is what keeps me going each time I have to say goodbye to one of my best friends. I wisper for my Dad to please take care of them for me, though his lap must be getting pretty full by now! Thank you Dr. Ward for easing this little girl's heart and mind, and giving her the belief that many animal lovers share, that we will one day see our beloved furry friends again.

Posted by Maureen Kearney
on May 08 2014 12:09

"Like a Shepherd, He feeds His flock, And gathers the lambs in His arms, Holding them tenderly, close to His heart, Leading them home" The God of Animals watches over and cares for all creatures...great and small.

Posted by Karin Mezey
on May 07 2014 13:05

Many years ago, my father's co-worker (an eighteen year old first time dog owner) asked my father the same question. He had just put down the dog he had grown up with. My father didn't know what to say. I told him that heaven is supposed to be a wonderful place with blue skies, green grass and blue oceans, where you will be happy forever. It would not be a wonderful place for me unless animals, especially my pets, are not there too. Therefore, they MUST go to heaven. Also, I have heard a number of religious people say that animals don't go to heaven because they have no souls. If you've ever looked into the eyes of your best friend, you know this isn't true. Therefore, again, they MUST go to heaven

Posted by Diane Rosenberg
on May 07 2014 11:32

I have had to say goodbye to several of my best friends and I always remember the "Rainbow Bridge" story. I hope everyone has read this! If you haven't it certainly deserves a search on the web to locate this beautiful reading.

Posted by Ellie Mccaffrey
on May 07 2014 11:08

I too believe God keeps all His creations with Him when they die. What you said to the little girl was so beautiful. You made it easier for her to let go.

Posted by Jerry Parisella
on May 07 2014 09:40

That was sage counsel, Dr. Ward. How wonderful that in your care of animals, you are also caring for their human caretakers with compassion. When my wife and I lost one of our beloved Dachshunds a few years ago, we came across a similarly touching story. The writer noted that, although the Bible is silent on whether animals have immortal souls like humans, the Bible speaks eloquently about heaven being paradise. She went on to write that, if our happiness in heaven requires the presence of our beloved pets, who is to say that they will not be there? You can't argue with her logic and we know that with God all things are possible.

Posted by Charles Barbour
on March 25 2014 14:09

I think God will send animals to heaven also Dr. Ward. They all seem to have personalities like humans.

Posted by Debbie Lowenstein
on March 23 2014 09:16

Dr. Ward From your mouth to God's ear I hope the same!!

Posted by Debby Owen
on March 22 2014 23:59

The fact that Jesus was born in a stable with animals around is evidence that animals are important to God. Also when the great flood destroyed the earth, it was the animals that were saved over the rest of the world's people. Hmmm, sounds like God is quite fond of the animals he created.

Posted by Deb & Jim Boyce
on March 22 2014 09:58

Ernie; Just wanted to let you know that, again, you and your words are so powerful. What you said to this little girl and, to Jim & I, are so true and calming. We thank you for being who you are and what you are.

Posted by Geraldine Caldwell
on March 22 2014 09:46

Thank you for that thought caring answer. I have always believed that all God's creatures go to heaven. I quoted Darrell Monaco and I agree with this statement totally "If my pet's aren't there then I don't want to be there either". Amen!

Posted by Rita M Dils
on March 22 2014 00:52

This also brought tears to my eyes, thinking about all the dogs we have lost over the years, but I also believe there has to be a special place in heaven for all animals, God would not give them to us if he would not later take care of them!!

Posted by Judy Yamada Frank
on March 21 2014 21:03

Thank you Dr Ernie for your compassion and easing the heartbreak of this little girl. The love we give to and receive for our pets never dies. While it's difficult to say goodbye to our furry friend, I believe it's the most loving thing we can do for them. They tell us when it's time to go. And when I put my hand over my heart and call for Olive, she's there and always will be.

Posted by Debra Gann
on March 21 2014 12:25

Thank you for voicing something that we all need to hear. So eloquently said.

Posted by Elizabeth
on March 21 2014 09:25

I also believe that animals go to heaven. God says in his word that the lion will lay down with the lamb. There are others verses that refer to animals being there. They will be as they were meant to be before corruption entered our world! Yes, God will take care of them and they will love him as it was always meant to be! Betty

policies by AGCS Marine Insurance Company, an Allianz company

our bloggers
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
  • Meet the panel
Dr. Ernie Ward, Jr.Veterinary Advisory Board of Petplan
vet tip of the week

Visit your vet at least once a year to keep your pet protected from preventable diseases.