Pets On Campus

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.