Celebrating #NationalPetDay & How Pets Benefit College Communities

Dogs happily roaming free, toys scattered around the office, and a jar of cookies by a co-workers desk. Sometimes I have a furry friend nestled by my feet for part of the workday. It’s pretty nice.

At Presence, we love animals, and encourage our team to bring their animals to work (right now, it’s mostly dogs). We try to get to know each other on a deeper level, outside of our day-to-day responsibilities. That means furry friends are welcome to visit often.

petday

Although we love highlighting our own animal family members, we realize that there can be some barriers in bringing dogs and pets on a college campus.

Here’s why animals, usually of the canine and feline family, are allowed on college campuses and we provide some psychology behind why they’re so welcomed!

The Benefits of Pets at Institutions

A growing number of colleges and universities have been allowing fido on campus, and for good reason.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) notes that pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, feelings of loneliness, and increase opportunities for socializing and getting some much-needed exercise.

Apart from needing to be able to welcome emotional support animals to campus (thank you, Fair Housing Act), our institutions should also consider the grand benefits of what pets can do for a student’s well-being. Here are a few top reasons why institutions have decided to welcome pets to their campus:

  • It can be difficult for students to be away from a pet
  • Having a furry friend (or any kind of animal) helps curb homesickness
  • It helps continue to teach responsibility and time management in taking responsibility for a pet

Having pets around campus can help students be more active, boosting serotonin levels in the brain.

Although there’s still a lot of pushback on which types of pets students can bring to campuses, there are a handful of campuses who allow a range of pets to show up to campus for a variety of reasons.

Considering A Pet Policy

Stetson University published their 2016- 2017 comprehensive pet policy last year on their housing and residential life website prior to students arriving to campus. It covers everything from pet licensing instructions depending on city/county, what would happen during inclement weather and even guidelines for if an animal becomes pregnant. We’ve found it’s pretty extensive (and helpful)!

Additional areas to consider when bringing pets to campus:

  • Consideration of staff and student allergies
  • Understanding students fears and anxieties of animals
  • Specifying specific residence halls or areas where animals are welcomed
  • Encourage bringing well-behaved animals to campus

It’s also important to note the difference between service animals, therapy animals, and emotional support animals. Here’s a graphic that visually breaks down each of these categories:

supportanimals

image from angelpawstherapy.org

For one thing, service animals/medical alert animals are not considered pets and rather assistance animals. They are necessary for people with various disabilities and are critical for the success of students and staff who need them. Social therapy/emotional support animals are not legally defined by federal laws, except for the Fair Housing Act,  and these policies vary from state-to-state.

One of our campus partners and neighboring institutions, Eckerd College is rated as one of the most pet-friendly institutions in the U.S. 14 of their residential halls are allowed to have dogs that are 40 lbs are less and they were named the Most Pet Friendly Campus by Animal Planet Host John Fulton.

Eckerd even goes as far as having a separate graduation for outgoing pets, complete with diplomas.

Inviting pets to campus is a great engagement opportunity for pets and pet-owners alike! Check out the Eckerd College Pet Life Facebook page and Instagram page full of adorable pet posts.

Florida Atlantic University FAU had a great April Fool’s day joke for prospective students and considered bringing all pets on campus (this didn’t actually happen, but we think it should be a real thing):

Your Thoughts!

Having dogs or animals around all the time may be a lot when first starting to implement a pet policy. Consider starting out the pet policy by welcoming animals on-campus over the weekend or during stressful times of the year (mid-terms, finals, etc) through animal therapy programming.

Let’s face it, it’s hard to get super bent out of shape with a friendly fido face around.

Do you have animals or pets on campus that benefit your campus community?

How do you think animals would help students on-campus?

Our team would love to see your pets or service animal who brings you joy. Send us a tweet of your #SApet to @HelloPresence!

P.S. Mark your calendars for International Bring Your Dog to Work Day on Friday, June 23rd, 2017 ? ?

Kayley Robsham

About the author: Kayley Robsham is the former Community Engagement Manager at Presence, the complete student engagement platform. Learn how we can help get your students involved.

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