Wednesday 4th October is the Feast of Francis of Assisi in the Christian Calendar, so it is appropriate that it is also World Animal Day since St Francis is the Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment. It is a popular date for animals to be blessed.
St Francis, who founded the Catholic Church’s Franciscan order, lived in Italy between approximately 1181 and 1226. He is remembered for his love for animals and nature and his generosity to the poor, as well as well as his willingness to minister to the lepers.
St Francis was cannonised (pronounced a Saint), shortly after his death (in 1228) by Pope Gregory IX. The Pope also laid the foundation stone for the Basilica of St Francis d'Assisi, Italy, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
See timeanddate.com and Wikipedia (where the image to the right was found) for more.