Back in May, followers of Harold Camping were preparing for the coming rapture. For some, that preparation included someone to look after their pets.
At the time, animal lover Bart Centre, the creator of Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, had 259 clients whose pets he promised to look after in the event that they were raptured in the next 10 years. Those clients paid $135 for the first pet and $20 for each additional pet.
Clearly, the rapture didn't happen as predicted on May 21. Centre tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz that, with the exception of a few demands for refunds, there wasn't a lot of fallout from the religious event, or nonevent, rather.
"I had to disappoint them and let them know we don't do refunds," Centre says.
There might not have been much fallout to Centre's business from the rapture not happening, but there was some fallout, in the form of complaints, when NPR first told Centre's story. Many criticized him and said that he was taking advantage of people, but Centre says that's not the case.
"I do not advertise my business. My business is advertised by the media and by word of mouth," Centre says. "I don't threaten people with the rapture coming; I outright tell them I do not believe in the rapture."
Centre says that does not negate the possibility that they could be right and he could be wrong, so he's offering a service to people who love their pets and believe the rapture is going to happen.
"I'm not in a position to say to them, 'It's not going to happen and you're foolish,'" he says. "If this is what they believe, then I will give them peace of mind."
Centre says business has been a little slow and he's added only a few clients since May. But he expects that around October 2012, close to when the Mayan calendar ends and what many people believe signifies the coming rapture, business might just pick up again.
GUY RAZ, HOST:
On to another religious event now or rather a non-event. We last heard from Bart Centre on May 21, 2011. That was the day followers of Harold Camping believed the rapture was meant to come. And Bart Centre, who's an animal lover, offered to look after the pets of those who expected to leave this earth on that day.
BART CENTRE: We currently have 259 clients who have contracted with us so that in the event they rapture over the next 10 years, they are sure that their pets will be rescued and cared for in loving homes.
RAZ: And how much does it cost?
CENTRE: It's $135 for the first pet, $20 for each additional pet.
RAZ: That was Bart Centre speaking to me back in May. And he joins us now for an update. Bart, welcome back.
CENTRE: Thanks so much, Guy. Good to be here.
RAZ: OK. Obviously, we are both still here. There was no rapture, thankfully. What happened, though, with your clients?
CENTRE: Well, six or seven of them expected refunds because they were not raptured and I had to disappoint them and let them know we don't do refunds. Other than that, there was no other fallout.
RAZ: Now, Bart, I do have to say that some people wrote in letters during our last interview saying, you know, this guy's taking advantage of people. This isn't fair. What do you think about that?
CENTRE: Here's what I think about it - and I've been, of course, asked this a lot. And I've been accused of taking advantage of people, et cetera. I do not advertise my business. My business is strictly advertised by the media and by word of mouth. I don't threaten people with the rapture coming. I outright tell them I do not believe in the rapture and that it will never happen.
However, that does not negate the possibility that they're right and I'm wrong. So, what I'm doing is I'm offering a service to people who love their dogs and cats and cockatoos and parrots and horses who really believe the rapture's going to happen. I'm not in a position to say to them: Look, you know, it's not going to happen. You're foolish. If this is what they believe, I will give them peace of mind.
RAZ: So, how has business been?
CENTRE: Kind of slow since then. I think we've added perhaps a half a dozen more clients. We've gone up to 264 clients at this time. So, it's been a little bit slow.
RAZ: When do you expect business to pick up again?
CENTRE: Probably October of next year in anticipation of the Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012 - the Mayan calendar ends. And I'm thinking that quite a number of Christians who believe in the rapture will foresee the Mayan prediction as an indicator of the coming of Jesus.
RAZ: That's Bart Centre. He is the creator of Eternal Earth-Bound Pets. It's a company that promises to look after your pet in the event you are saved during the rapture. Bart, good to talk with you again.
CENTRE: Thank you, Guy. Very good talking to you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.