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NEW ORLEANS (AP/WGNO) — Rule No. 1 for next week’s animal blessing at Loyola University: “Please leave venomous animals at home.”

Rule No. 2: Be prepared to clean up after your pet. “We will provide a pet station with complimentary water and waste bags,” said a news release.

The group blessing of the animals — all comers welcome — will be the first since 1999 at Loyola University New Orleans.

The Rev. Justin Daffron, Loyola’s interim president, and Parleaux, a black cockapoo he trained as the university’s therapy dog, will attend, university spokeswoman Patricia Murret said Thursday.

The service is scheduled for Tuesday evening on the lawn next to the university’s church. Oct. 4 is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, ecology, merchants and Italy.

Churches and schools from the East Coast to the West Coast hold Blessing of the Animals services. Murret said they were popular at Loyola during the 1990s but apparently fell by the wayside for the next two decades. She doesn’t know why.

She said someone suggested resuming the tradition at a late August or early September meeting “about alumni events, bringing people together, reconnecting in this post-pandemic world as we return to life and joy and connections with each other.”

The response, Murret said, “was a pretty quick pile-on — yes! Let’s do it!”

She didn’t know how many people brought animals to be blessed in the 1990s, or how many of the current 4,500 students and 650 faculty and staff members are likely to do so.

“We’re sort of curious ourselves. We know people are excited and hope people will come,” she said.

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