Fido and Fluffy go to college


For some students, the thought of heading off to college can be a bit nerve wracking. Not only are you leaving behind the comfort of your home and family life, but you will be faced with new challenges, such as learning to live with a complete stranger. The stress of college classes, making new friends and being away from home can be overwhelming for many. Fortunately, some students now have the option of bringing Fido or Fluffy with them to college. It’s not a new concept, but it is gaining acceptance at more campuses. Why? For one, students who are able to have a pet with them in their dorm room report feeling less lonely than those who do not have a pet. This is especially true for students who have a difficult time getting out and meeting new people. Pets are a great way to start a conversation and often help ease the social anxiety some students experience at college. Secondly, pets provide a great source of comfort. If a student has a bad day or is stressed over an upcoming exam, simply having a pet to confide in and take comfort in is a great relief. In addition to providing companionship and alleviating stress, pets also teach students responsibility. Not only will the student need to learn time-management skills for juggling classes, but also caring for his/her pet. This includes feeding, grooming, and medical care, as well as maintaining a clean environment for pets and people. Unfortunately, the majority of college campuses currently only allow fish as a pet. However, these campuses welcome a variety of furry (and not so furry) friends.

1. Eckerd College

  • Pets allowed: fish, reptiles (including snakes), rabbits, ferrets, birds, cats and dogs (under 40 lbs.)
  • Fee: $125.00, includes registration, ID tag and student card
  • Number allowed per student: one pet (cat or dog) or two small, domestic animals (other)
  • Additional information: Students must reside on campus for a minimum of one semester before applying for a pet permit. Only dogs that are non-aggressive breeds are allowed.

2. Stephens College

  • Pets allowed: fish, rodents, rabbits, sugar gliders, cats and dogs.
  • Fee: $200.00 registration fee
  • Number allowed: one pet initially, but a second may be approved later
  • Additional information: The college provides a doggy spa and kennel, as well as a scholarship award through a pet fostering program with the Columbia, Missouri animal shelter. Students may also foster pets from other local animal shelters.

3. California Institute of Technology

  • Pets allowed: fish, reptiles and cats
  • Fee: $200 non-refundable registration fee
  • Number allowed: two cats per room or building, depending upon the dorm restrictions
  • Additional information: All cats must remain indoors and wear a collar. Aquariums and terrariums cannot exceed 20 gallons.

4. Washington and Jefferson University

  • Pets allowed: fish, small birds, rodents, turtles, cats and dogs (under 40 lbs.)
  • Fee: $50 (cats/dogs) or $25 (others)
  • Number allowed: one per room
  • Additional information: All dorms allow fish, but only Monroe Hall allows other types of pets.

In general, most campuses require that students provide a current vaccination record for their pet, as well as having their pet spayed or neutered. Students should also consider the additional expense of housing a pet on campus. Not only will they need to pay a registration fee or deposit, there will be expenses for food, grooming and medical treatment. If the pet should cause damages to the room or someone’s belongings, the student may also be liable for those fees. Since many campuses do not allow pets on campus during the breaks or summer semester, arrangements must also be made for housing the pets during these periods. While having a pet on campus has many benefits, students should consider the economic and time constraints associated with owning a pet before deciding whether Fido or Fluffy should share in their college adventure.

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