St. Francis and Solar Power with Andy Lichtenberg

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“Praised be you, with all your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day and through whom you give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor.”

-St. Francis from The Canticle of the Creatures

Standing humbly in a flower garden on the grounds of the Lichtenberg Veterinary Hospital is a small statue of St. Francis, the saint who wrote the Canticle of Brother Sun. 

St. Francis is perhaps the most befitting figure to represent a solar powered veterinary hospital, as he is known as the patron saint of animals and the environment. 

Andy and Dr. Debora Lichtenberg opened the animal hospital in Belchertown, Massachusetts in 1992 after dreaming about running their own business while attending university in Philadelphia.

“When we lived in Philadelphia, we joked about opening a veterinary hospital. This is really a case of dreams coming true,” Andy said. 

The hospital is located on land that started out as a chicken farm. 

“The farm was famous for it’s Rhode Island Reds, and when we first opened, locals would come into the office and tell me that they used to buy their chickens here,” Andy said.

Today, the hospital cares for a variety of animals ranging from mice to 160-pound Great Danes. In addition to caring for animals, the Lichtenberg’s care for the environment.

“We recycle like crazy and do whatever we can for the environment,” Andy said. “I wish we could do more.”

The Lichtenberg’s did do more in 2013 when they began harnessing the power of the sun.

“I don’t know where I got the idea to go solar, it just seemed like the natural thing to do,” Andy told me sitting inside an animal exam area. “Solar fits with the philosophy of what we do here. I love the idea that we are doing this for the environment and I love that people see it and think about doing it themselves.”

Short of preaching, the Lichtenberg’s veterinary hospital certainly sends a message—they care about life, they care about animals and they care about the environment.

St. Francis would be proud.

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