Austrian priest flooded with e-mail requests for pet blessings

Vienna, Austria - Austrian priest Franz Zeiger is getting hundreds of e-mails from pet owners around the world, as he said he is the world's only Catholic cleric offering virtual blessings for critters on World Animal Day on Sunday. Word has spread on the internet that the priest would put up all the photos of dogs, cats and other pets on a wall in his church in Linz on Sunday and bless them, the priest said Friday.

"At the moment, the computer system has crashed because it simply became too much," said Zeiger, 47, who gets up two hours earlier than ususal these days to send personal answers to each and every pet owner.

The priest has received e-mails from as far as Kenia, Australia and New Zealand.

"Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity to have my furbabies blessed," a Louisiana woman wrote on behalf of her cats Blob and Stripes and her dog Buster.

Zeiler says he asks for God's grace for the animals because they are an essential part of Creation.

World Animal Day is celebrated on October 4, the memorial day of the Catholic patron saint of animals, Saint Francis of Assisi.