This summer, professors in Carroll College's anthrozoology program are prepping the campus's new Perkins Call Canine Center for the fall semester.
Dee Villalta, director of the canine center, is spending her summer facilitating the move from the ANZ house where the canine program has been housed for the past five or six years. Villalta began work as the canine center director in January 2019 and is a graduate of Carroll's program.
The new facility has everything the students needs for the day-to-day work of their program. Upon entering the building, visitors will find themselves in the lobby area where there will be seating and a relaxation area. Directly connected to this area is the crown jewel of the facility, the main training area.
The main training area is 2,600 square feet of open space for canine training. The facility offers space for training including basic cognition training and behavioral observation.
"Here we have students attempting to better understand the animals," Villalta said. "The idea is that we facilitate the participation of the animal."
This happens by having a better understanding of the language of the animals that students work with. According to Villalta, in some ways the students are learning to "speak dog."
The main training area also has direct access to Centennial Park. The program has used the park for years, but the new facility offers easier access. Villalta felt the location especially beneficial for any training that requires large spaces.
The building also features four offices for the administrators and professors, a classroom that can hold approximately 40 students, two research rooms, a veterinary treatment room, a grooming area and kennels both indoors and outdoors.
Almost every possible need of the students can be accommodated by the facility.
The research rooms provide opportunities for research into animal behavior. The veterinary treatment room accommodates pre-vet and canine science students. And grooming is a necessary part of all canine handling that students must learn.
Villalta said there is quite a bit of crossover between anthrozoology and the various other sciences taught at Carroll. These disciplines will also be able to take advantage of the facility as necessary.
"Changes is always difficult for me. I grew up in ANZ," Villalta said. "But it feels great to have this space, to tell students to come here for all their ANZ needs."
Villalta said the new facility also provides opportunities for the program to continue growing and expanding. Over the next five years, the anthrozoology program is expected to represent approximately 10% of Carroll's total enrollment.
"Carroll's anthrozoology program was the first program of its kind in the nation to study the interactions and relationships between human and non-human animals," said Carroll president John Cech. "It has grown to nearly 100 students from across the United States."
Cech said new and innovative programs like anthrozoology need investments to grow and reach their full potential, and this facility is the next major step toward that goal.
"We invest in facilities based on specific program needs," Cech said. "The center is really a laboratory specialized to anthrozoology with a focus on the study of canine animals. Having a building fully dedicated to our anthrozoology program both elevates the stature of the program and provides a centralized, state-of-the-art venue for our students."
Carroll first broke ground on the canine center in fall 2019. The facility is now expected to open by Aug. 17.
Cech said the facility wouldn't have been possible without generous donations from previous students. Whitney Call, the program's first graduate, and her family gifted $1.25 million through the FJM Impact Fund to support construction of the facility.
Anne Perkins, for whom the building is named, was the founder of the college's anthrozoology program, and is now retired.
This story has been changed to say that Anne Perkins is the founder of the anthrozoology program and to clarify the types and purposes of canine trainings being offered. The story has been further changed to note that a veterinary treatment room is included rather than a veterinary facility offering services.