Owners present pets to Philippines priest for blessing

Animals and their owners gather at Our Ladies of Remedies Parish in the Malate area of Manila on October 6, 2019, for an annual pet blessing ceremony. (Photo: JAM STA ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)

MANILA, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Elaborately dressed cats and dogs and even a palm-sized sugar glider were among the animals blessed outside a Philippine mall on Sunday in celebration of the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and World Animal day.

Pet owners raised their furry friends as a priest sprinkled holy water on the menagerie.

"They are like humans to us, so we need to have them blessed and make sure they do not get sick, and continue being with me," said Filipino dog owner Ram de Castro, while carrying his pet dressed in Miss Universe-inspired red evening gown.

More than 100 pets were brought in for this year's religious and blessing ceremony.

Anna Padrilao, a cat owner, said it was only right that her pet gets blessed because he is also a creation of God.

"Animals should be treasured the same way as humans", she said.

World Animal Day, a day of action recognised worldwide for animal rights and welfare, is celebrated on Oct. 4, the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi. (Reporting by Peter Blaza; Writing by Karen Lema; Editing by Alison Williams)