If you are like me, when you left your home for college, you left a dear, beloved friend behind, your pet(s). I left my two cats Lucky and Maggie when I moved from my home in Montgomery, New Jersey to MU. Leaving them behind made it difficult to settle in at school my freshman year. Even though I begged my parents to let me take my cats with me, offering to pay the fines if and when I got caught, they still said “no,” so I moved into Cedar pet-less.
Currently, MU does not permit pets to live in the dorms or in off-campus housing, leaving us pet owners with no choice but to bid farewell to our furry companions until winter break. I know this might be farfetched, but what if pets were allowed to live with us at school?
By allowing pets to live on campus, both the University and the students would benefit alike. If MU turned an off-campus housing section into a pet-friendly residency, MU could charge a fee for a pet application to be approved by the Office of Residential Life, as well as monthly fees to cover the pet living in the dorm, extra cleaning accommodations, etc.
Eckerd College, located in St. Petersburg, Florida, has one of the oldest pets-in-residence programs in the nation, and is frequently sought by other colleges looking to implement its own pet policies. Eckerd College allows domestic animals in all housing complexes during the fall and spring terms as long as they are properly secured in a cage.
Permitted pets include dogs under 40 pounds, cats, ferrets, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, turtles, fish and non-venomous snakes under 6 feet long. Additionally, pets must be at least one year old. Eckerd College has a Pet Council to decide what pets are permitted to reside on campus. They also deal with all other issues and concerns regarding pets at Eckerd.
While it makes perfect sense to me, and it seems easy enough to create a pet-friendly dorm and to implement a Pet Council at MU, perhaps some of you need more convincing. Not only are animals fun to have, they also offer countless health benefits.
According to AmericanSmart.org, “playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol.” Additionally, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association states, “researchers have found that the mere presence of an animal has a beneficial effect on heart function, and stroking and talking to a pet reduces blood pressure and stress.” Doesn’t that sound like the perfect combination? Stressful classes and a stress-relieving pet waiting for you after class.
For my junior year, my boyfriend and I moved off campus into a condo and, luckily for us, the condo was pet-friendly. We began exploring our options for a new dog. We wound up with a 35 pound “American mutt” (as we like to call him) named Diesel. It’s been a year and a half since getting Diesel, and I can honestly say that there is nothing better than coming home from a long, stressful, demanding day at school to Diesel’s loving face.
While I have to be honest and share that having a pet at school adds a fairly large amount of extra responsibility, the reward is worth the work. I understand the hesitance that schools, such as MU may have with becoming a pet-friendly campus, but there are many benefits to implementing a pet-friendly dorm. Both the school and students would benefit from having pets on campus and I personally believe that it would make campus even more special and enjoyable.