HELENA — It’s Anthrozoology Week at Carroll College, intended to raise awareness of the program and bring attention to how the study helps us understand the animals around us.
“These dogs go to college. That's what we say; that they are getting a college education wrapped up into two semesters. And they leave being sometimes some of the best-trained dogs in Helena. It’s amazing,” says Assistant Professor of Anthrozoology, Molly Sumridge.
This anthrozoology program takes dogs, and a couple of cats, from the humane society and places them in the care of students in the program. The students will spend this school year training these animals and getting them ready for adoption. The program not only helps train the animals but gives the students real-world experience, better understanding the intricacies of their interactions with animals.
“Some of those students are going to do scent work with those dogs, teaching their animals to identify and find certain scents, service animal tasks, therapy animal skills, agility, obedience, all sorts of amazing skills. So, over the course of two semesters these animals get a huge repertoire of training,” says Sumridge.
Anthrozoology major, Grace Carter, is from a family that trains service dogs. She joined the program with the intention to carry on the family work of training dogs to help those with disabilities.
“Just how, like, sociable they are, and just lovable, and they're so forgiving. They just absolutely like fill my heart with joy. And to eventually become someone who can work with the dogs to help someone with a disability, or something like that, to work for service work is my dream,” says Carter.
At the end of this year, the animals in the program will be adopted out to the public. The animals can end up in normal family homes, or sometimes can enter more specified fields. For example, a recent graduate of the program now works at the Helena Police Department.
One among many publicly available events that were held this week will be a talk given by Anthrozoology Department Chair, Dr. Marie Suthers. On Sunday, September 11th, Suthers will talk about her experience at ground zero, after the 9/11 tragedy, giving veterinarian help to working animals on the scene.