Message: I heard in church last Sunday that all the animals will be
resurrected with the righteous. I know that the righteous who are
resurected, come back and rise from the grave. Do animals come back
where they died? Do our pets get to be with us again? How will they
find us or, how will we find them? I had a cat and a dog that I
really, really loved that died and if the animals are resurrected, I
would want them to be with me again. Your thoughts?
The following was given in the Liahona, March 1979. It was written by Gerald E. Jones an institute instructor. It is of “General Gospel Interest, answered for guidance, not an official statement of the Church.”
A number of questions have been asked concerning the place of animals in the gospel plan:
Do animals have spirits and are they resurrected? Yes. The Prophet Joseph Smith received information concerning the eternal status of animals. Answers to questions he posed are in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 77. He also spoke about the resurrection of animals in a sermon but did not expand on the subject. (History of the Church, 5:343.)
To what degree of glory do animals go? The scriptures speak only of animals being in the celestial kingdom. Whether they go to other kingdoms is a matter of conjecture. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith on one occasion said the distribution of animals into all three degrees of glory is “very probable.” (Improvement Era, Jan. 1958, p. 16–17.) To my knowledge, no other prophet has published an opinion on the subject.
Are animals judged and resurrected according to their obedience to laws? According to Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, animals do not have a conscience. They cannot sin and they cannot repent, for they have not knowledge of right and wrong. (Man: His Origin and Destiny, Deseret Book Co., 1954, pp. 204–205.)
Can animals be with their owners in the hereafter? There is no revealed word on this subject. Reason would tell us that a rancher or farmer may not want all of the cattle he has owned during his life. On the other hand, emotional ties may be honored and family pets may well be restored to their owners in the resurrection, Elder Orson F. Whitney wrote that Joseph Smith expected to have his favorite horse in eternity. (Improvement Era, August 1927, p. 855.)
Just what is the relationship between men and animals? Men are children of God. Animals are for the benefit of man. This does not mean, however, that man is not to have a concern for this part of his stewardship. The prophets in all ages have indicated that man will be accountable for his treatment of animals and that justice and mercy should be exercised concerning them. Alma encourages us to pray over our flocks. (Alma 34:20, 25.) There are numerous examples in Church history of animals being administered to by the anointing of oil and their resultant healing. In the best-known incident, Mary Fielding Smith’s oxen were spared to bring her pioneer family, including a future President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith, to Utah. (Preston Nibley, Presidents of the Church, Deseret Book Co., 1959, pp. 234–34.)
Though the prophets have spoken frequently about man’s responsibility to treat animals properly in this world, very little detail is known about the states of animals in the eternities. Greater emphasis is rightly placed upon man’s need to live the gospel and be worthy to return to his Heavenly Father where he will then learn the answers to such questions. Quoting again from the editorial cited at the beginning of this article: “Men cannot worship the Creator and look with careless indifference upon his creations. The love of all life helps man to the enjoyment of a better life. I exalt the spiritual nature of those in need of divine favor.” (Juvenile Instructor, April 1918, p. 182.)
As indicated in the above article, very little has been given on the subject of animals and their status in the hereafter, but the Brethren continue to counsel us on the proper treatment of animals, including a talk given by President Kimball while he was President of the Church concerning killing animals for sport and the treatment of animals.