MANILA - Hundreds of animal lovers in the Philippines had their pets blessed via a drive-through ceremony on Sunday to mark World Animal Day and the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, forgoing the usual fanfare due to COVID-19.
This was the second straight year that organizers had to hold a drive-through ceremony to mark World Animal day - celebrated worldwide to recognize animal rights and welfare - to ensure the safety of the animals and owners.
The Philippines has recorded more than 2.5 million COVID-19 cases and more than 38,000 deaths and is one of Asia's worst-affected countries in terms of casualties and economic losses.
Among those who patiently waited in the long queue of vehicles was Maxine Mariano, who brought Cookie, her seven-year old Shih Tzu, to receive a blessing from the priest who sprayed and sprinkled holy water on her beloved pet.
"We believe that it's for the long life also of our dog, and then also as Catholics it's important to have them blessed as well just like us," Mariano said through the window of her car.
More than 500 animals of different shapes and sizes were blessed during the ceremony.
(Reporting by Adrian Portugal, Writing by Karen Lema; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)