What will you be doing for your animals on Friday? It’s World Animal Day and owners around the world are encouraged people to give some extra attention and thought to their animals this week.
“World Animal Day is set aside to celebrate animal life in all its forms and our relationship with the animal kingdom,” said President of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) Dr Ben Gardiner.
“Whether they’re our pets, a horse, working dog, farm animals or animals providing a source of wonder in the wild, our animals are a vital and valuable part of the human experience.”
In Austria, the Pfarre Linz – St. Peter church has offered its traditional animal blessing for several years, with pet and animal owners from around the world sending in pictures to be included.
World Animal Day on October 4 marks the commemoration of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
For many years pets living within the boundaries of the Parish have been blessed during Holy Mass on the Sunday nearest World Animal Day.
All pets brought to the divine service by their owners are individually blessed. Several years ago the parish started offering world-wide participation, following requests from animal owners who were unable to make the trip for various reasons.
Pastor Franz Zeiger posts the pictures on a wall at the animal blessing and the pictured pets are blessed as part of the ceremony.
“They will take part in our animal blessing from afar as we ask for God’s blessing on the intercession of St. Francis. A world-wide participation is therefore possible!”
Participation is free.
Since the blessing went world-wide, more than a thousand pictures have been sent in each year for the blessing.
Owners can send by email a picture with the name on it of their animal – be it a dog, cat, horse, or any other pet – to the parish for the animal blessing.
This year’s traditional Animal Blessing will take place at the church at 9.30am on Sunday, October 6 – the closest Sunday to World Animal Day. Pictures received will be posted on the church’s wall and those animals will also be blessed.
World Animal Day started in 1931 to highlight the plight of endangered species.
Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world with 39 per cent of households owning a dog and 29 per cent of households owning a cat. There are also about 10.7 million fish and 4.8 million birds kept as pets as well as 2.2 million other pets including small mammals and reptiles.
“Companion animals play an important role in keeping Australians happy and healthy. Looking after them by keeping them fit and healthy in return is an important responsibility for pet owners,” said Dr Gardiner.
“Research has shown that people who care for pets visit the doctor less often, have lower cholesterol and blood pressure and deal better with stressful situations.”
Email email@example.com to be part of the blessing.