In line with COVID-19 quarantine policies, an annual pet blessing event in Quezon City, Philippines was held via drive-through for the first time on Sunday.
The event, which debuted in 2005, was held in observance of the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
The Philippines has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia. As of Oct. 5, the predominantly-Catholic state confirmed 324,762 cases, which included 5,840 deaths.
Quezon City, as part of the National Capital Region (Metro Manila), remains under general community quarantine (GCQ) until Oct. 30. This policy allows religious gatherings at a maximum capacity of 10%.
Ensuring safety while keeping tradition, humans and their animal companions drove through Eastwood Citywalk for the annual pet blessing on Sunday.
Photos and videos from the event show a Catholic priest praying for the animals and sprinkling them holy water.
“We have to adapt to the new normal and the pandemic should never stop us from paying tribute to the furry animals that we have,” said Ritchie Pascual, one of the event organizers, according to Reuters.
Arlene Pedron, who has a 2-year-old golden retriever, shared that having her pet blessed is “very important,” since it’s already a member of the family.
The blessing of pets started in Quezon City’s Eastwood City — a business and residential complex owned by Megaworld Corporation — in 2005.
“Megaworld Lifestyle Malls continues to celebrate the presence and genuine companionship our pets give us, especially during this time of the pandemic. We may not be able to celebrate it the way we used to, but we still have lots of reasons to be grateful for the moments we get to spend with our loyal friends,” said Tefel Pesigan-Valentino, Megaworld Lifestyle Malls vice president for marketing, according to Inquirer Lifestyle.
“The Drive-thru Pet Blessing also encourages social and physical distancing as much as possible, which helps ensure the continued safety of everyone.”
Aside from the drive-through blessing, an online contest invited owners and their pets to dress up in futuristic costumes using recycled materials.
Feature Images via Getty