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Many colleges around the United States don’t allow pets anywhere on their campuses. However, some allow students to bring their pets. That way, they can have that familiar piece of their lives with them while they are away from home. These colleges are warmly known as “Pet-Friendly” Colleges.
Because of these pet-friendly colleges, students are able to bring a piece of home to school which can be a great comfort when studying miles and miles away. It can be very difficult for students to be away from a pet which can affect grades and focus.
By having their furry, scaled, or feathered friend with them, they have that familiar piece of home that they know and love. Having a pet on campus does more than quell a bit of home sickness; for instance, taking care of pets also teaches students time and obligation management in the midst of life’s responsibilities.
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Here at LendEDU, we decided to do a little research on which campuses are the most “pet-friendly.” Being cat/dog owners and recent graduates ourselves, we thought it would be a nice change of pace to see which colleges are, for the most part, open to having a few extra pets on campus.
Below is a list of the 25 most pet-friendly colleges. Dog-lovers, cat-lovers, fish-owners, bird-keepers, lizard-enthusiasts, and more enjoy!
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The 25 Most Pet-Friendly Colleges
1. Eckerd College – St. Petersburg, Florida
At Eckerd College, eight of the 12 residential halls allow dogs as long as they are 40 pounds or less. Cats, chinchillas, large birds, ferrets, rabbits, ducks, and other types of pets are welcome to live in any of these housing units. Animal Planet featured Eckerd College as one of the most pet-friendly colleges mainly because it has a pet graduation every year for pets that will be leaving with their owners.
On top of this, a local veterinarian does biannual health checks, so students can ensure that their pets are in great health. The college also has a pet blessing in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. The pet must be registered with the Pet Life staff. Inoculation and registration requirements must be met. The number of pet-friendly residential halls, the number of animals, and the services available make this college the “top dog” in pet-friendly colleges.
2. Stephen’s College – Columbia, Missouri
Stephen’s College is extremely pet-friendly since most pets are allowed on campus anywhere. In addition to this, the president’s office has dog treats on-hand! This goes to show that the leadership is especially pet-friendly. The college also has a fostering program with a shelter, and students can spend time with the shelter pets when they wish, helping take care of them. Students can take on some of the responsibility of taking care of the pets until they are ready to go to their forever homes.
One big aspect of this program is the fact that pets can be fostered in dorms. Furthermore, Stephen’s College has a Doggy Daycare that is free for students, and there is no weight or size limit for allowable dogs. Birds, cats, fish, and rabbits are also accepted around campus. The number of animals, the foster program, and the president’s love for dogs are why Stephen’s College is the number two most pet-friendly college campus.
3. Stetson University – DeLand, Florida
Stetson University allows practically any type of pet that can be brought into a dorm. Additionally, it has one dog park where students can bring their dogs to play and socialize. Pets aren’t allowed in classrooms and must be leashed on-campus, but they can live in three of the on-campus apartment buildings as long as they are under 50 pounds and not considered aggressive.
The Florida climate also makes it easy to take a dog out for a walk, so you could say the climate is pet-friendly. Students are responsible for flea control and damage to the dorm. Students can bring their pet to other areas of the campus as long as the dog is leashed. The fact that Stetson allows virtually any type of animal, has a dog park, and has a more generous weight limit for dogs compared to other universities is why this school ranks number 3.
4. The University of Washington – Seattle, Washington
The University of Washington has at least four housing complexes that allow students to have dogs. There are also 14 unleashed dog parks in Seattle; these are especially dog-friendly parks where students can let their dogs play and socialize. Although Seattle is known for the rain it gets, it doesn’t rain all the time, so you can expect plenty of time with your best friend.
For those that prefer fish, Laurel Village, Stevens Court, and Blakely Village will allow them. Overall, there is a pretty diverse pet-friendly atmosphere at the University of Washington. This ranking is a result of at least four buildings allowing dogs, the inclusion of fish, and the number of unleashed dog parks in Seattle that students can easily access. Students here may feel lucky they have such a pet-friendly city.
5. Lees-McRae College – Banner Elk, North Carolina
Lees-McRae College allows pets in the dorms, but it also encourages professors and students to bring their pets to school. The college is known for hosting pet-friendly events throughout the year including Homecoming Dog Court. This shows how much they accept dogs at the campus! There are also several pet-friendly living quarters on campus that allow students to live with their best friends. To have a pet while living in a dorm, an application must be submitted to the Student Development Office, but there is a good chance for most pets to be accepted.
The Lees-McRae College Pet Council regulates pet ownership, but the fact that they have a pet Council says plenty about Lees-McRae. Aquariums aren’t to exceed 20 gallons, terrariums shouldn’t exceed 40 gallons, and snakes and rats are not allowed; aside from those restrictions, they are pretty accepting on animals. Pets are permitted in apartments, houses with the approval of the housemates, Baldwin Hall, and any other housing the president approves. Dogs are to not exceed 40 pounds and can’t be a pit bull, Akita, husky, chow, bullmastiff, Doberman, German shepherd, Rottweiler, or any other type of breed that may be listed in the guidelines. Lees-McRae ranks fifth because of allowing both professors and students to bring pets to school, the variety of pets allowed, and that it is possible to live with a pet in more than just Baldwin Hall pending the approval of the president.
6. Reed College – Portland, Oregon
Reed College is a little loose on the rules as to what types of pets it allows. However, it doesn’t want aggressive pets (only friendly ones!) on campus and wants them contained unless they are in an off-leash area. Keep in mind that the Director of Facilities and the Director of Community Safety determine what areas are off-leash areas. If an area isn’t designated as off-leash, a dog must have a leash when in hallways, lobbies, and other common areas.
One interesting aspect of Reed College is their conservation efforts for animals and neighboring wildlife. Reed College’s administration doesn’t tolerate any sort of abuse being inflicted on local wildlife which includes your pets. If a student is found doing harm to any wildlife, that student will be dealt with in a manner that the administration deems appropriate. Students can rest safe knowing their pets are protected. Reed College ranks sixth because of its liberal rules on the pets it accepts, the designation of off-leash areas, and the extreme care for wildlife surrounding the campus.
7. California Institute of Technology – Pasadena, California
Caltech has been known as a cat-friendly campus. Seven of the residence halls allow up to two cats in each room. Unfortunately, on May 1, 2018, Caltech announced it would no longer accept applications for new pets. And any current school-approved feline residents will need to move off-campus by June 2019.
Still, Caltech does allow other animals to reside in school housing. Service animals may be allowed to stay on campus, as long as the student notifies the school in a timely manner. Caltech defines a service animal as a dog or mini-horse that is trained to perform tasks that directly assist with a person’s disability.
Students may also keep an emotional support animal in Caltech housing if it’s needed for physical assistance, emotional support, or other kinds of help. Just be sure to get your emotional support animal approved with the school – you’ll need a doctor’s note – before you move it in, otherwise you could pay a $200 fine.
8. The University of Idaho – Moscow, Idaho
The University of Idaho has some restrictions when it comes to pets on campus. For instance, only birds, aquatic pets, and cats are allowed, so dogs are unfortunately left out of the equation. However, all accepted pets are allowed in on-campus apartments, so you can live with your pets almost anywhere on campus. A student can have up to two cats, but they all must be spayed or neutered which requires written proof from the veterinarian that performed the procedure.
There are a few other rules to make the campus safe as well as the pets themselves. Pets should have current shots. Birds must remain in their cage. Rabbits, snakes, lizards, or any rodents of any kind are not permitted. Students also have to carry at least $50,000 in liability insurance that covers bodily injury. If you think you have a safe pet, then go ahead and bring it along!
9. Johnson and Wales University – Providence, Rhode Island
Some residence areas at Johnson and Wales University allow students to keep their pets; however, they can only have one pet. Dogs should be no more than 40 pounds and at least one-year old. Cats must be over one year old. Caged animals are also permitted, and they include guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters. The cage should be no larger than 16 square feet. Some dog breeds are restricted such as German shepherds, pit bulls, Akitas, wolf hybrids, and any breeds that the city ordinance considers aggressive. Fish are permitted in all residence halls if they are in single tanks that are 5 gallons or smaller. This ranking is determined based on the fact that both cats and dogs are welcome in some residence halls, as well as some caged animals. However, there are the age and breed restrictions on cats and dogs.
10. The University of Northern Colorado – Greely, Colorado
The University of Northern Colorado allows students to bring their dogs and cats on campus, but they are only allowed to live on the second, third, and fourth floors of Lawrenson Hall. Although the number of pets allowed to live on campus is limited, there are 11 dog parks (dog-friendly!) that surround the campus, giving students plenty of places to take their dogs for exercise and socialization. While dogs are allowed on this campus, this ranking is the result of the amount of living space being restricted to just three floors. This greatly limits the number of students that can have pets on campus.
11. The University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, Illinois
The University of Illinois at Urbana is rather restrictive when it comes to allowing pets, but it still has some great pet-friendly facets. Although it will allow more than one type of pet in a dorm, there is only one unit, Ashton Woods, that allows pets. Nonetheless, the campus does offer pet care classes that are open to the community. There is also an 80-acre dog park near the campus. The school also has a world-class veterinarian school. For students that want to keep a fish tank, it should be 50 gallons or less. If a student chooses Homestay residency, he or she can only have a pet if the host family will allow it. This ranking is due to the allowance of dogs and fish tanks up to 50 gallons, as well as the enormous nearby dog park.
12. Washington and Jefferson College – Washington, Pennsylvania
All students can bring fish with them if they don’t have teeth. However, Monroe Hall is the only pet-friendly living unit that will allow cats and dogs. The pet being brought to campus must have also been with the family for at least a year. This means if the pet has been with the family for just six months, that pet doesn’t qualify for residence in Monroe Hall. There are also breed restrictions that are specified in the pet policy at the time a student inquires about having a dog or cat on campus.
Dogs and cats must be 40 pounds or less and spayed or neutered. Gerbils, hamsters, small birds, guinea pigs, fish, and turtles are also allowed if they are in cages or aquariums. This college accepts pets on a case-by-case basis, so it doesn’t hurt to inquire if you don’t see yours listed. The ranking of Washington and Jefferson is due to cats, dogs, and fish being allowed. However, there are weight and breed restrictions.
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13. State University of New York at Canton – Canton, New York
State University of New York at Canton has a pet wing for pet owners that wish to live with their best friends. A small caged pet or one cat are allowed, so this is more cat-oriented than dog. On top of this, the residence hall director must approve all pets on-campus. This rule makes sense since cats can roam the wing as they please, so if your cat is approved, then they get free reign. This is part of the university’s goal of promoting a family-like atmosphere, so it is natural to see how being pet-friendly fits into the equation. Snakes, birds, and dogs aren’t permitted. Although the types of pets are limited, this ranking is the result of there being a pet wing and the fact that cats can roam the wing freely.
14. Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Cambridge, Massachusetts
MIT will allow cats in four of the dormitories, but you have to get approval from the MIT student government body’s pet chair that represents the dormitory residents. You also have to make sure your roommate is fine with having a cat, so make sure you find a pet-friendly roommate. The application to have a cat isn’t approved unless the cat has had all shots and is spayed or neutered. MIT’s ranking is due to its pet policy being restricted to cats in four dormitories. Aside from that, it is fairly pet friendly for being in a city.
15. The University of Florida – Gainesville, Florida
The University of Florida allows students to bring small caged animals or fish. These animals include reptiles, small rodents, and small birds. Iguanas are not allowed because lizards aren’t allowed to be more than 6 inches from the tip of their snout to their tail. Chinchillas, salamanders, geckos, frogs, and non-predatory birds are allowed. However, they can’t weigh more than a half-pound. Written permission from the Village Housing staff is required to be able to have any of these pets on campus. Students are required to make sure that the living quarters of their pets are kept clean. This ranking is the result of the number of small caged animals allowed, but it is affected by the strict regulations set by the school.
16. Middlebury College – Middlebury, Vermont
Middlebury College is a liberal arts college that allows small rodents and fish to be in the dormitories as long as they are caged or in tanks. The pet policy doesn’t state a tank size but states that cages need to be small. Students are not allowed to have ferrets or snakes. While students can bring dogs on the campus, they must be on a leash or under voice command. Dogs aren’t allowed to be tethered to objects. Even when visiting, they aren’t allowed in the dorms. This ranking is due to the limited number of pets allowed but the fact there is no limit on tank size specified.
17. Principia College – Elsah, Illinois
At one time, Principia College may have allowed dogs to be unleashed in certain areas on campus, but that is now not the case. Students are not allowed to keep cats or dogs for any reason. They can have caged animals, such as birds, hamsters, and fish. If it goes in a cage or aquarium, students can keep them in their dorms. However, the school has strict rules about making sure the cages are small and kept clean. There should be no odors. Before students can have a pet in a dorm, they must get permission from their roommate and the RCE. It is highly encouraged that students consider the quality of the pet’s life while living in the dorm. This ranking is due to the number of caged animals that are allowed.
18. Earlham College – Richmond, Indiana
Earlham College allows amphibians that are water dependent and nonpoisonous. The tanks must be 20 gallons or less. Fish-specific tanks of 20 gallons or less are also permitted. While dogs aren’t allowed in the dorms or in any of the academic buildings or dining areas, they are allowed on campus. However, the pet policy states that they must be supervised at all times. At the very least, you can have a solid day on campus with your dog. Permission to have pets in the dorms must be sought through the area director. This ranking is the result of the allowance of water-dependent animals and dogs being allowed on campus.
19. Sweet Briar College – Sweet Briar, Virginia
Sweet Briar College doesn’t allow cats or dogs, but it does allow students to bring their own horses. Yes, that is right. Horses are allowed on campus. This has much to do with the college’s riding program. Students of all skill levels are welcome, and the school also participates in riding competitions. Nonetheless, students that are more comfortable with their own horse can board their horse at the stables. To board a horse, the student must be accepted into the riding program. A boarding application must also be completed, submitted, and approved. This ranking is the result of students being able to board their own horses.
20. Houghton College – Houghton, New York
Houghton College has an equestrian program, so it allows horses to be boarded on campus. However, it also allows students to bring their horse to school regardless of their equestrian program involvement. Student horses aren’t required to be used for lessons, but students can ride their own horses for their riding classes if their horse is the best choice. The students must pay to board their horses, but the cost depends on how much it costs Houghton to keep the horses. If the expenses increase, the cost of boarding does, as well. Houghton’s ranking is because students can board their horses even if they don’t participate in the equestrian program, but it can come at a cost.
21. Harvey Mudd College – Claremont, California
Students can bring their turtle, hamster, or gerbil into their dorm as long as the roommate approves. Pet registration must also be completed within seven days of bringing the pet on campus. Harvey Mudd’s pet policy states that the pets must be properly cared for. The policies that are in place are designed to protect the pets and the welfare of the students living in the dorm. This ranking is the result of limited types of animals and the possibility a student may not be able to live with his or her pet.
22. The University of Notre Dame – Notre Dame, Indiana
The University of Notre Dame doesn’t allow cats or dogs, but students can have fish tanks up to 30 gallons. The fish within the tanks shouldn’t be carnivorous, and they must be freshwater fish. The policy extends to guests that may wish to bring cats or dogs on campus. This ranking is due to only fish being allowed, but the aquarium size is one of the largest specified in university pet policies.
23. Duke University – Durham, North Carolina
Contrary to belief, Duke University doesn’t have the cat-friendly housing that it was thought to have. However, it does allow fish in aquariums up to 25 gallons. The aquarium has to be cleaned regularly to avoid odors. The fish also have to be approved by the university, as carnivorous fish that could potentially cause injury to someone placing a finger in the tank are not allowed. Service and therapy animals are allowed when registered with the Student Disability Access Office. This ranking is the result of Duke allowing just fish, but the tank size is somewhat more generous than other universities.
24. Lehigh University – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Lehigh University students are permitted to have 10-gallon fish tanks in the resident halls. The only areas where cats and dogs are allowed are in sorority or fraternity houses. The members of those houses must agree to have the pets. It is required that students that have cats or dogs make sure they receive the proper veterinary care. The pet must also be accompanied by a human companion when in common areas. It is stressed that the pet does not cause any issues for residents that may have allergies. An extensive investigation is also conducted before the pet is allowed to live in the house. This ranking is the result of only 10-gallon fish tanks being allowed, but dogs are permitted in common areas.
25. Humboldt State University – Arcata, California
Humboldt State University will allow students to bring aquarium pets, like turtles, snakes, and lizards, if the tank is under 10 gallons in size. Their pet policy states that if it is feathered, warm-blooded, or poisonous, it is not allowed in the residence halls. The policy also covers visitors and guests to the dorms, if even for a short period. Although a number of aquarium pets are allowed, the size is very restrictive, which is why Humboldt sits at number 25 in the rankings.
There were several considerations that went into the formulation of this list. Each college on this list was reviewed with a consistent focus on overall pet policy, number of pet-friendly on-campus housing units available, number of allowable pets in those housing units,, diversity of pets allowed on campus, number of dog parks available near or on the campus, and a few other “x-factors” that were particularly relevant to pets.
Pet policy was a big factor in determining this list although it was not a significant ranking factor. Pet policy strictness acted as a screening factor by eliminating colleges from consideration for this list. Colleges with a no pet policy were obviously excluded from future consideration, but colleges with a pet-friendly policy of any sort were reviewed further.
The number of pet-friendly housing units on campus was a significant ranking factor. Colleges with a greater number of this type of dorm can accommodate more pets overall. For this study, more pets was perceived as a friendlier atmosphere for pets and pet owners. In conjunction with this line of thinking, the number of pets allowed per housing unit was another important consideration for the same reasons mentioned previously.
The diversity of pets allowed on campus helped decided between colleges with similar pet and housing policies. Colleges with greater diversity were given the edge over less diverse campuses due to the inclusiveness of many different pets. This allows various different owners of pets aside from dogs to bring their pets on campus.
The number of dog parks was an obvious ranking factor to keep in mind. Colleges with more dog parks were given a better ranking, and the size of these dog parks was taken into consideration. Since dogs require plenty of space to stay healthy by keeping active, this was a serious ranking consideration especially when taking into account that dogs are one of the most popular choices for a pet.
“X-factors” is admittedly a very loose term, but it was necessary to include for ranking considerations. Some colleges have unique aspects in terms of pet policy and pet accommodations. These were important because they helped distinguish similar colleges from each other in terms of pet-friendliness.
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Author: Jeff Gitlen, CEPF®