Going off to college can be a big step. If one moves far away they’re leaving their friends and family behind. Even if students stick close to home they’re still not around as much. Sonoma State University students are in a new environment with large classes, annoyingly small beds, and a new roommate who will either be their best friend or their mortal enemy by the end of the year. But perhaps what they will miss the most is their small, furry family member they have to leave at home.
When it comes to pets, most colleges have a “fish only” policy, with the rule that aquariums be no larger than ten gallons. Service animals are allowed but it’s a strenuous process with a stack of paperwork to go through to get a pet approved. Besides these service animals, I think colleges should allow students to have small pets in designated dorms. Don’t get me wrong, when I say small pet I mean a hamster or a bunny or maybe even a cat.
When I was a freshman I lived in a dorm with nine girls and one of them decided to get two labrador puppies and bring them back to her personal dorm room. As excited as I was about these adorable puppies, we knew the situation could cause trouble.
We also weren’t surprised when the CSA’s knocked on our door before Thanksgiving break saying they weren’t stupid and puppies aren’t exactly the most quiet pets. My roommate was told to take the puppies home or to find a new place for them and that they’ll be back to check after the break.
Thanksgiving break came to an end and our roommate came back, but with one of the puppies in tow. She claimed she was having it registered as a “companion animal” and the school had to let her keep it. Once again we got several visits from the CSA’s and after she failed to have the correct paperwork filled out, our roommate and her puppy were kicked off campus.
While the puppies were adorable, they were also a handful and caused an insane amount of stress, as well as a hefty fee in damages for the girls room. So while I am advocating for small pets to be allowed, I don’t agree with having dogs in dorms unless they are service animals. Volunteer at a shelter or attend one of the school’s puppy days to get your fill of doggy love.
As far as other animals go, studies have shown that pets help people live mentally healthier lives. They can have a calming effect on a person, just by petting them or being around them. My roommate, who lives with me off-campus, just finished fostering kittens and after a long day of school or work I would come home and notice a difference in my energy levels when playing with them. With a kitten cuddled up on my shoulder I felt instantly relaxed while doing homework or just de-stressing.
Pets are a big responsibility. However, if a student were to bring a small pet, there should still be rules and guidelines. Designating dorms to be pet friendly as well as having a contract that would hold the student responsible for any damages the pet causes is the only way allowing small pets can work. Also, the number of pets should be limited and all roommates living in the dorm would need signed approval.
It would be beyond beneficial for a students to have a small pet with them in college. Not only will it be a way to keep their stress levels low, but it’s also a way to make friends and have something to look forward to going home to after a long day of class or work.