Filipino dog owners have pets blessed ahead of World Animals Day

MANILA (REUTERS) - Filipino dog owners had their pets blessed at a zoo in Manila on Saturday (Sept 30) ahead of a feast of a Catholic saint and World Animals Day.

A priest prayed for and sprinkled holy water on three dozen dogs of various breeds, from the smallest chihuahua to the most expensive canine, the Tibetan Mastiff, as well as a reticulated python - one of the zoo's main attractions.

Zoo owner Manny Tiangco said he holds the annual celebration to tell the world not to eat dogs, a tradition common in the northern Philippines and Asia.

The Philippine bureau of animal industry estimates there are around 10 million dogs in the country.

World Animals Day falls on Oct 4. Catholics celebrate the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.