Pets make great life companions and stress relievers, which is something many college students largely benefit from. A study conducted by researchers from Washington State University has shown that students are relieved of feelings of stress and pressure by simply petting dogs and cats. Numerous studies also prove how beneficial pets can be for our overall health.
You may be one of the many college students who want to have their pets beside them as they earn their degrees. But with animal restrictions in a lot of establishments, particularly in colleges and in housing, it can be quite a challenge to squeeze your furry friends into your college life.
However, the trouble may be well worth it, especially if you consider the benefits of having a pet in college:
- Having a pet you have to regularly feed and take care of will improve your sense of responsibility, which can positively affect your work ethic.
- Interacting with your pet signals your brain to release good endorphins or “happy hormones,” such as dopamine and serotonin, which play a huge factor in your mood and motivation.
- The simple act of stroking your pets or talking to them can ease feelings of anxiety and decrease feelings of loneliness.
- Pets like dogs and cats encourage you to engage in more physical activity. Having them around will make you inclined to do things such as playing games with them, frequently taking them outside for walks, or even exercising with them.
- The added responsibility of having extra pet maintenance expenses can prompt you to develop and practice sound financial management habits.
Most mainstream colleges don’t allow pets on campus and on school housing. Fortunately, students can still find a pet-friendly college that meets their needs, and it does not have to be a world-class veterinarian school!
Also, note that restrictions may vary across schools, so it’s essential to look into each of their pet policies to see which ones suit you and your pet the best. Some may allow only certain types of pets, like fish and small caged animals, and some may allow a wider variety of pets, under the condition that the owners should be responsible for their pets all the time.
Common Pet Policies in US Colleges
While every school has a slightly different pet policy from one to another, every pet policy still typically contains the following rules and restrictions:
- Pets must be spayed or neutered.
- Pets must be properly vaccinated and in decent health.
- Pets must be checked and/or treated for fleas.
- Dogs must be of non-aggressive breeds.
- Service dogs and emotional support animals may be exempted from standard restrictions under several conditions.
- Pets must be managed so they are not disruptive to other occupants.
There may also be particular in-housing pet policies and requirements that must be adhered to, such as size and weight requirements for dogs, number of pets, and there could be a few extra pet fees here and there. All these policies, however, share the same goal: to maintain a convenient and comfortable living space for everyone. The policies are set in place so that neither pet owners nor non-owners are inconvenienced and so that both can enjoy a good amount of freedom in their living spaces.
Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals
Compared to an ordinary family pet, both service animals and emotional support animals have more emphasized benefits to students who own them and are recognized as necessary by the law. This is why they are often exempted from pet policies and are more convenient to take with you.
Different from emotional support animals, service animals—particularly dogs—are trained to assist and perform tasks for persons with disabilities. There are many types of service dogs for various disabilities and needs. All of them are also legally allowed to accompany their owners to the majority of the public or shared spaces, such as malls, parks, and school campuses, because they are not pets; they are working animals.
Emotional support animals, on the other hand, fit closer into the pet category. They are exactly what they sound like; animals that are there to provide emotional support for their owners with mental ailments. These animals are not limited to dogs and cats, and training isn’t a strict requirement for them either, which is why they are more likely to be legally disallowed by establishments.
Top Pet-Friendly Colleges in the United States
These colleges allow animals in pet-friendly residence halls, on campus premises. and student housing:
Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio)
You can bring your pet with you if you study at CWRU, but you can’t exactly bring your pet to class. Dogs, cats, birds, and any other kind of animal are not allowed on campus grounds. This means you shouldn’t bring your pet to offices, classrooms, hallways, and anywhere in the campus buildings except campus dorms and other select areas. Exemptions are only made for service animals and those used for teaching purposes.
Service animals are required to be made known to the school’s Office of Disability Resources in Educational Services for Students (ESS).
The pet policy of Case Western Reserve University is very particular in terms of which pets are allowed in which areas of the campus but is otherwise still reasonably lenient towards most kinds of pets. The policy favors small caged pets, especially rabbits and hamsters. So if you’re either an owner of these tiny furballs or planning to be, the CWRU housing and the school, in general, should be great for you, not to mention the wide variety of programs offered in every level and every format (part-time, full time, online, and blended) for your utmost convenience.
Principia College (Elsah, Illinois)
Principia College has a generally stricter set of rules regarding pets, but for a good reason. The school used to allow dogs and cats, but their policy has been updated only to allow service dogs, small caged animals, and pets in aquariums. A huge deciding factor of the policy update is that smaller pets typically require lower maintenance and are also less likely to be disruptive. The best pets to take with you in Principia are fish, little rodents (such as chinchillas and hamsters), and amphibians.
Principia wants to ensure both the living quality of the students and their pets, so there are strict rules regarding cleanliness and the health of your pets. There should be no odors in the pet house, fish tanks, cage for aquatic pets, and living space. For this reason, birds are the least recommended kind of pet to have in Principia, although they are allowed. Bird droppings tend to be foul-smelling, which may inconvenience your roommates because of the odors and yourself because you’ll need to clean the cage often.
Pet policy aside, Principia is worth considering, especially if you are more inclined toward a humanistic career. This is a private liberal arts college where Christian science is a relevant part of campus life, and the student population is diverse. There are also 27 different majors offered by the school.
University of Washington (Bothell, Washington)
UW Bothell’s pet policy allows most pets to be within campus premises as long as they are under control and not a nuisance to the public. This means you are allowed to bring your cats and dogs on campus as long as they are clean and leashed and as long as you clean up after them or make them wear pet diapers. The school also has plastic bags distributed around the campus grounds to make it easier for pet owners to dispose of their pet’s waste, maintaining the cleanliness of the area.
Service animals are allowed to accompany their persons anywhere on the campus as well, although there may be some locations that are off-limits to them for their safety. The best part of the school’s policy is that it also allows animals that are categorized as wild or feral as long as they are not causing property damage, not being hazardous, or being a nuisance. So if you have an exotic pet that’s sweet and not dangerous at all, then chances are you may take it with you.
Humboldt State University (Arcata, California)
Humboldt’s pet policy was first issued in 2008 and was approved in 2017, and it remains the way it is today. It states that while pets and service animals aren’t allowed inside campus buildings, they are still allowed on campus grounds. And just like the University of Washington, they also allow cats, dogs, and feral or wild animals as long as they are under control, not left unattended, and not hazardous or disruptive.
However, on-campus housing has stricter rules with pets, considering how it is a living space. They only allow small fish and amphibians, and there should be consent from their roommates. The rules are also applicable to visiting guests, and it is explicitly stated that any other pets aren’t allowed within residence halls, even temporarily.
In summary, any pets can visit campus grounds, but only small pets are allowed in campus housing. So if your pet happens to be outside of the allowed pet categories, you may want to take a look at other pet-friendly housing options outside but near the Humboldt campus.
Washington and Jefferson College (Washington, Pennsylvania)
Washington and Jefferson College, by far, seem to be among the most pet-friendly colleges out there. Most family pets are allowed to be brought in by students if they have been in the student’s family for at least six months to a year.
W&J was one of the first schools in the region to allow students’ pets, and Monroe hall was the first to be given a pet-friendly designation. Monroe hall used to be the only hall that allowed dogs and cats to reside with students, but now there are more pet-friendly residential halls, such as Buchanan hall and Adams hall. They even have upgraded accommodations. These halls are also equipped with dog-wash stations for the convenience of dog owners and have been renovated.
Dogs, gerbils, small birds, and other small animals are allowed in the residence halls but note that there may be breed and weight restrictions when applying to reside with a dog or a cat. Fortunately, though, the school is lenient and accepts on a case-by-case basis. So if you’re unsure whether your pet is qualified, you can always reach out to the school.
Stanford University (Stanford, California)
Let’s start by getting the bad news out of the way: Stanford itself has a “no pet policy” in student residence halls and in the workplace. However, this prestigious college made it to the list because there are still a variety of pet-friendly housing options nearby, so you won’t have to miss either your pet or an excellent academic opportunity at Stanford.
We are only talking about schools with conveniently pet-friendly housing, after all. In fact, the school even has resources for the housing of students who own pets, showcasing apartments and other rentals that are close to the campus. And just like most schools, it is also possible to apply for an exemption in the “no pet policy” by requesting a disability-related accommodation, such as service and support animals.
William Marsh Rice University (Houston, Texas)
According to Rice university’s campus housing agreement, certified assistance and wellness animals are allowed, as approved by Disability Support Services. Any pets other than flora and fish in tanks of no more than 10 gallons are not allowed. The pet policy is quite restrictive in the university, although it may be possible to inquire about bringing other miniature pets, such as tarantulas and rodents.
There aren’t many resources about what other pets might be considered on-campus housing. But the good news, especially for dog lovers, is that Rice university has a policy that allows dogs to be brought on campus. Which, of course, also includes a condition that the owners keep them leashed and pick up after them.
Lees-McRae College (Banner Elk, North Carolina)
Lees-McRae is easily the perfect school for animal enthusiasts and pet lovers. The school offers a pre-veterinary medicine program with a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, where students can care for injured wildlife, a great option for those who want to study wildlife biology.
To add more animals to the equation, the pet policy also allows students to bring their pets to live on campus after two semesters of college housing.
There are also designated pet-friendly housing units in which conventional pets, such as dogs, cats, and fish, are allowed. There, however, is a 40-pound weight limit and some breed restrictions for dogs for insurance purposes. But considering how the pet policy is lenient, you can try your luck at negotiating your pet with the school’s administrators.
Sweet Briar College (Sweet Briar, Virginia)
Sweet briar is a private women’s liberal arts college. The policy allows only females and selects animals in the school’s residence halls and apartment complexes. They allow students to bring fish and other small aquatic animals, but other conventional pets are restricted.
However, like most colleges, exceptions are made for emotional support and service animals. If you want a bigger pet in this school, horses are your best (and only) option because the one thing that really sets Sweet briar college apart from other schools is that they have equestrian training and competitions.
The school has 3,250 acres dedicated to horse stables, equestrian training, and competition, as well as a riding center and a hunter trials course. Their equestrian programs can be a great way to incorporate a good amount of physical activity as you study in the school’s diverse liberal arts programs.
Johnson and Wales University (Providence, Rhode Island)
In the fall semester of 2016, the university implemented a pet program which is expected to be improved and grow over time since the school treats it as a learning experience. The school allows most kinds of pets to be brought to reside on campus, expecting students to develop a sense of responsibility taking care of another living thing’s welfare apart from their own.
Students are free to bring dogs, cats, rabbits, pets in aquariums, and even birds, or practically any pet of their choice in 3 of the school’s residence halls. Nevertheless, it’s still important to keep pets well groomed, up to date in their vaccines, and spayed or neutered upon entering campus housing.
Eckerd College (St. Petersburg, Florida)
Eckerd College has an exceedingly open pet policy- and for that, it was featured on Animal Planet’s “Must love cats.” Eckerd has four pet-friendly dorms dedicated to every pet-owning student, and the pet policy is applicable per student instead of per dorm.
Any animal that can live or be transported in either a terrarium, aquarium, or cage is welcomed. Students are also not limited to just one but any two combinations of these, allowing more variety in pet options. There may be a few policy guidelines, of course, such as restrictions on the size, weight, and breed of dogs and the length of snakes. Yes– snakes are also allowed as long as they are not venomous and are no more than 6 feet long.
Eckerd is also abundant in wide and open spaces for you to walk or carry your pets around in, giving a healthier environment for both students and their pets.
Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vermont)
The pet policy in Middlebury is particular about quality cages and tanks to house the students’ small pets. Small caged animals and fish are, at most, the only pets allowed in Middlebury, except for snakes and ferrets. No exemptions are made for the two, even if they are in tanks and cages. Small, low-maintenance animals such as fish, guinea pigs, and hamsters are among the best pet options in Middlebury housing.
You can bring your emotional support animal and service animal to the majority of the campus areas. Still, they are not allowed to live in campus housing or to stay overnight temporarily.
The school does not require any certification for service animals. However, it is stated in their policy that you have to make it known to the Middlebury personnel if your animal may be required because of a disability and what task/s your animal has been trained to perform.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Cats are perhaps one of the most low-maintenance conventional pets around, which is why the Massachusetts Institute of Technology only allows cats on-campus housing. Four of MIT’s dormitories allow students to have cats, with the approval of the student government body’s pet chair and the consent of their roommates. So it’s vital to secure your roommate’s consent before you apply to have your cat live with you.
MIT’s pet guidelines also indicate that cats should be spayed or neutered, as well as fully vaccinated, in order to qualify for the pet application. Students who prefer cats, have phobias of other animals, or simply prefer not to reside with any other kind of pet can significantly benefit from MIT’s “cats only” policy since there is assurance that there will be no other animals other than friendly, low maintenance felines.
University of Northern Colorado (Greely, Colorado)
The University of Northern Colorado is dog and cat-friendly. But like most school pet policies, the school requires pets to be spayed or neutered, there is a 40-pound limit for dogs, and any dog of a protective breed (or mixed with a protective breed) is restricted.
The Lawrenson residential Hall has designated floors for pet owners, particularly the second, third, and fourth floors. However, the number of pets allowed to reside on campus may be limited because of this. As for emotional support and service dogs, exemptions may be negotiated in terms of housing.
The housing for pet-owning students may be limited, but the good news is there are also options for pet-friendly housing off campus; and the campus area is surrounded by 11 dog-friendly parks where students could take their pets, or even just themselves, for exercise, socialization, and walks.
Reed College (Portland, Oregon)
Reed College’s pet guidelines aren’t particular about which pets are welcome on campus. However, they require all pets to be harmless and adequately contained.
Spaying and neutering both cats and dogs are strongly recommended by the school, but this is not mandatory should the owners want to keep the reproductive abilities of their furry friends.
There is also a dog park and some off-leash areas for students’ dogs to roam in. Dogs are permitted in common areas like lobbies, residential halls, and some facilities when leashed or kept in decent-sized cages. Reed college holds animal life in high regard, and that does not exclude wildlife. Any hunting, intentional harm, or violence toward animals and the local wildlife are subject to punishment.
Stetson University (DeLand, Florida)
Stetson has two dormitories that welcome a wide selection of pets, so you can expect to meet a variety of animals on-campus housing. The school even allows faculty and staff to be accompanied to work by obedient and well-trained pets.
Stetson’s pet policy is no doubt among the most generous ones, especially to dogs. There are no weight and breed restrictions, and there is a doggie daycare, as well as a spacious dog park for students’ dogs.
Stetson also takes a unique approach to dog-friendliness with their pet program that allows students to foster and help train future service dogs. In addition to all that, DeLand is abundant in beaches, parks, and even natural springs, and many of these area attractions are pet friendly.
University of Idaho (Moscow, Idaho)
While the University of Idaho does not allow snakes, lizards, rabbits, rodents, and dogs in residential halls, cats, small birds, and fish are widely accepted in on-campus apartments. Intuitively, there may be age restrictions for pets in housing, but the school still allows kittens. A student may also have up to two cats, but they all must be spayed or neutered with written proof from the veterinarian responsible for the sterilization procedure.
To ensure the living quality of both students and their pets, the animals should also be up to date in their vaccines, birds are to be kept in their cages, and students are also required to have at least $50,000 in liability insurance which covers bodily injury.
Fortunately, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem if your pet is generally a harmless one. There is also quite a lot of room for students to exercise and take their pets outside, with 10 miles of streets and 20 miles of sidewalks.
Stephens College (Columbia, Missouri )
Stephens brands itself as “the pet-friendliest campus on the planet,” welcoming more than just cats, dogs, and birds on campus for more than ten years. Most pets are allowed anywhere on campus, and the president’s office even gives out dog treats!
Stephen’s College also features a doggy daycare that is free of charge for students and free from size and weight limits for dogs. Considering the evident love for pets in Stephens, there shouldn’t be many issues regarding housing and pet accommodations while attending this school.
Delaware Valley University (Doylestown, Pennsylvania)
Being a student pet owner is free of charge in this school, which is good news if you want to spare yourself from extra pet fees. Students at Delaware Valley University are allowed to have up to two of the same pets in the same housing unit, to allow pets and their owners slightly more company. Cats and small pets, like rodents and short, non-venomous snakes, are welcome. The administration may also check the pet’s environment and welfare and hold the owners liable for any damages caused by their pets.
Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Harvard allows leashed and well-behaved dogs of both students and guests on campus grounds to enjoy the vast areas, trees, and even some pet-friendly events! The dogs must, however, wear pet diapers or at least always be cleaned up after should they ever defecate on campus property. In terms of housing, pets are limited to housing premises only.
Pet-friendly Rentals as an Alternative Option
In the case that you can’t find a pet-friendly campus, consider other rentals off campus. Seeking off-campus housing gives you more choices and is a great option, especially if you want to go to a college that doesn’t allow pets on campus but don’t want to leave your pet either. This way, you wouldn’t have to sacrifice either getting quality education from your dream college or your pet.
Some landlords may be tricky to deal with when discussing pet ownership and crafting a pet policy agreement, so make it a point to ask a lot of essential questions to the landlord when looking into a place for you and your pet. Inquiring about extra pet fees (or even bargaining to save a couple of dollars) and knowing the pet rules should be a priority in order to make your moving process and your stay a good experience.
Additional Information to consider: