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Pope shakes paw of rescue dog

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By Catherine Hardy
Pope shakes paw of rescue dog

Pope meets pup

Pope Francis has blessed and shaken paws with an Italian rescue dog.

Leo, a black Labrador retriever, was part of a rescue team looking for survivors in the wake of the devastating earthquake on 24 August that claimed nearly 300 lives.

He helped locate four-year-old Giorgia Rinaldo, trapped for 16 hours in the rubble of her home in Pescara Del Tronto.

Little Giorgia was found in the embrace of her older sister, Giulia, who did not survive the disaster.

Giorgia is recovering from her ordeal in hospital.

Pope Francis took a special moment to greet Leo at the end of the audience for the Jubilee of Mercy.

He also met Leo’s human handler and his colleague.

The patron saint of animals

It is not surprising that the Pope has an affinity with animals.

St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals.

He was also the founder of the Franciscan Order, to which Pope Francis belongs and from which he took his papal name.