Do pets go to heaven?

My wife and I have a German Shepherd. This is the third German Shepherd we have owned. I truly enjoy the unique personality that the breed possesses. As much as he can sometimes be a pain, and even though the dog food expense is hurting our budget, I love my dog. I think it would be wonderful to be able to see my three German Shepherds, and any subsequent pets I own in the future, in heaven. However, my ability to look forward to and long for heaven is not dependent on whether my pets will be there waiting for me. Ultimately, heaven is about God, not us. If God decides to resurrect our pets and allow us to spend time with them in heaven, fantastic. If God does not decide to do this, it will not make heaven any less enjoyable. Heaven will be perfect, and we will be perfectly satisfied with it, whether or not our pets are there.

What does the Bible say about whether pets go to heaven? Genesis 1:25 indicates that animals are good. Revelation 21:1 indicates that heaven will be a re-creation, a New Earth. Isaiah 11:6 and 65:25 describe animals living in perfect harmony with humanity and one another, likely during the Millennial Kingdom, but some interpret the Isaiah passages as speaking of the New Earth. So, while the Bible does not explicitly state there will be animals on the New Earth, there is no reason given in the Bible for why there could not be animals on the New Earth. Whether some of these animals would be our pets brought back to life is another matter.

It is important to distinguish between humanity and the animal kingdom. While both humanity and the animals had life breathed into them (Genesis 1:30; 2:7; 6:17; 7:15), only humanity is created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Many believe part of being created in the image of God is the existence of immaterial life, i.e., a soul/spirit. It is possible that since animals are not created in the image of God, that they do not have immaterial life, and therefore there is nothing that continues after physical death. However, again, as we see in Revelation 21, heaven will be, in part, a physical existence on a physical planet. So, there is nothing in the fact that only humanity is created in the image of God that would preclude God from bringing our pets back to life and placing them on the New Earth.

The key point in all of this is that whatever God's decision is on this issue, we will be perfectly happy with it. The presence/absence of our pets in heaven will not matter to us once we arrive there. Again, I sincerely hope my German Shepherds will be there. It would be wonderful to never have to say "bad dog" and see those brown puppy dog eyes looking back at me with sadness. If they are not in heaven, though, I will still joyfully worship God for all of eternity!

P.S. Several years ago we had to euthanize our second German Shepherd. He had a neurological disorder that ended his life far too early. Never having gone through pet euthanasia before, I have new empathy and compassion for people who have to experience it. As good of a job as the veterinarians did, it was still a difficult and emotionally painful experience. I will also say that my desire to be reunited with my pets in Heaven is increased. I would truly love to be able to see them again. But, my ultimate conclusion has not changed. My enjoyment of Heaven and my worship of God for all of eternity will not in any sense be dependent on the presence of my pets.

S. Michael Houdmann

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Do pets go to heaven?