WASHINGTON — When judgment day comes -- which some US Christian fundamentalists insist will happen on Saturday -- have you thought about what you're going to do with the family dog and cat?
In 26 US states, you could have them rescued and adopted by enterprising atheists who have set up a business to care for the animal companions of any Christians who are selected to go to heaven when Jesus Christ comes back.
"You've committed your life to Jesus. You know you're saved. But when the Rapture comes, what's to become of your loving pets who are left behind?" Eternal Earth-Bound Pets says on its website, offering to "take that burden off your mind."
The post-doomsday pet rescue service already has 259 clients, who have paid $135 for the first pet and $20 for each additional pet at the same address, to ensure the faithful animal companions are looked after and loved even when their Christian owners have gone to the other side.
All the rescuers are sworn atheists, which means they will definitely be left behind on Earth, ready to rescue pets after the Rapture, which one US Christian fundamentalist group has penciled for Saturday.
When judgment day happens, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets co-founder Bart Centre "will notify all of our rescuers to go into action and they will drive to the homes of anyone who's signed a contract with us, pick up their pets and take them home and adopt them as their own, keeping them happy and healthy for the rest of their lives.
"This will happen only if and when the Rapture happens. So we do not expect to have to do anything on Saturday," Centre told AFP.
Contracts are good for 10 years, just in case the Mayan calendar prophesy, which predicts the world will end in December next year, comes true.