1. People & Relationships

Can I Have a Pet in College?

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Can I Have a Pet in College? (P.E. Reed / Getty Images)
Question: Can I Have a Pet in College?

For some students, daily life involves being around a pet or pets. At college, however, animals usually aren't allowed. So is it possible to have a pet in college?

Answer:

Those college students interested in having a pet in college have a few options. Mostly, however, pets are not allowed in places like residence halls -- or even on campus -- for a variety of reasons. Your campus is likely not trying to be cruel; they simply have to worry about issues of safety and regulations about hygiene that they are required to comply with.

First and foremost, there are in fact some schools that allow pets on campus. These are the exceptions to the rule, however, and picking a school based on their pet policy may not be best choice. Additionally, even if your school of choice doesn't allow pets on campus, you can always rent a house with some friends or find an off-campus apartment that permits pets.

If you're a student who needs an animal with you for medical reasons (such as a service dog, for example), however, you should contact your school right away. Letting your college know that you need assistance -- both from them and your service animal -- as soon as possible is definitely of high importance. They should work with you to figure out a way to support you and your service animal during your time in school.

If, however, you would strongly just prefer to have a pet as part of your experience, there are some ways you can incorporate animals into your new college life:

  • See what's allowed in your living space. Alright, so you can't bring along a dog or cat. But can you bring a fish or other small animal? Are there certain animals that are allowed, and if so, what are the regulations? Are there certain theme houses that allow their residents to bring pets with them?
  • Can your family bring up your family pet for a visit? Let's say your family comes up the first Sunday of the month to take you out to brunch. Can they bring your family dog in the car for a quick visit? Are dogs allowed to walk on campus if they're leashed? Will a monthly or occasional visit from your pet suffice?
  • Consider volunteering at a shelter. If you just love -- and even need! -- to be around animals but can't have one with you on campus, consider volunteering at a local animal shelter. You have a lot of love and patience to give and there are always animals in need. Check with your campus volunteer center, do some quick searching online, or even start your own campus group to help make regular volunteer sessions at a shelter a reality.

Keep in mind, too, that when you go to college, it will be nearly impossible to recreate the life you had back at home. And that's part of the fun, right? If, deep down, you wanted things to be the same, you wouldn't have decided to go off to college in the first place. Be flexible in understanding that there sometimes is only so much your school can do. They might very well be limited about having pets in the residence halls, for example, because of city and county health regulations. Check in with your pet(s) during a Skype session with your parents and know that your pet(s) will be just as excited to see you as you will be to see them when you next return home.

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