HELENA — Students, faculty and community members gathered at Carroll College Friday for the annual Blessing of the Animals.
The yearly tradition coincides with the Feast of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals.
More than 20 dogs, a cat and three fish were present for the blessing conducted by Father Marc Lenneman.
Carroll College is home to the first Anthrozoology Undergraduate program in the nation.
Anthrozoology is the scientific and scholarly investigation of human-animal interactions.
“Everything is related to anthrozoology,” explained Delaney Lester, Anthrozoology undergrad. “The environment and the way you interact with animals. The people that are walking by [today] are getting interactions from animals like ‘oh dog, cute!’ That triggers hormones and endorphins that go through your body.”
There are currently more than 100 students enrolled in Anthrozoology at Carroll College and more than 20 dogs in the program.
“It’s been a very interesting experience so far,” said Kayley Pruden, Anthrozoology undergrad. “I’ve learned that not only can animals help us, but we can help animals. There’s a lot of welfare to do with therapy dogs and how sometimes they can get overwhelmed.”
Many of the program dogs will be in need of forever homes this coming spring. More information can be found here.