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Do College Dorms Allow Pets? (Bringing Along Fluffy to College)

A dog and a cat with a pile of textbooks lying on the bed.

Pet lovers are certainly aware of the joy and comfort that a pet brings to their lives. No matter what form your pet may take, we all cherish moments with our animal children. But when it’s time to head off to college, the question remains: Do college dorms allow pets?

As someone who cannot leave her cats without developing some level of anxiety, I’ve become increasingly familiar with all the ways you can travel with your pets, and that includes how to incorporate them into dorm life. 

Whether you’re leaning yes on the decision to bring your furry friend or not, the fact is that animals in dorm rooms are becoming more popular, especially as the number of students requiring emotional support animals increased in recent years. 

In this article, you will find out which types of pets are generally allowed, guidelines surrounding emotional support animals, the pros and cons of having a pet in the dorms, and a list of colleges that allow pets for those taking advantage of campus living. 

It’s time to dive right into learning everything you need to know before deciding whether or not to bring a pet with you to a residence hall. 

Do College Dorms Allow Pets? Why They Have the Right to Restrict Certain Animals

A college guy about to kiss his dog while playing outdoors.

Universities may create their own campus housing policies as long as they are following the law. This means that if they want to, colleges can create a pet-friendly student housing experience. However, there are reasons why it makes sense for universities to hold certain restrictions. 

Financial Considerations 

When larger animals like cats or dogs are allowed in student housing, costs tend to increase for the university over time. For instance, carpet and furniture may acquire more wear and tear if the college student has a pet living with them.

Potential Liabilities

If a student apartment is more lenient with more dangerous animals like poisonous snakes or aggressive dogs, they may be looking at some serious legal action if there’s an accident. Other legal considerations involve a student’s right to an assistance animal (but we will get into that later). 

The Reality of Student Life

Many universities may view campus life for students as somewhat compromised when taking care of certain pets. I know. A lot of you probably just rolled your eyes (I did, too). 

But it makes sense that pets are a decisive variable in determining one’s residence hall experience, and it’s the university’s right to dictate these conditions in the dorms. 

Pet Factors Considered by College Dorms

When it comes to which types of pets are banned or allowed in college dorm rooms, several factors are considered. Here are some of the most common:

  • Whether or not a pet is a service animal
  • Species, breeds, and weight of an animal
  • Cost considerations 
  • Permission or registration policies
  • Student safety
  • Other specific campus housing policies 

Emotional Therapy Animals

A guide dog clearing the path for his human with a disability.

For students with a disability who rely on emotional support and service pets, specific laws protect your right to be an exception to these rules against pets in dorms. Enter the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA). 

ADA

The ADA enforces your right to have a service dog with you on campus. Note that it’s illegal for your university to show evidence of your disability. The school can, however, inquire as to what the service pet is trained for. 

FHA

The FHA protects your right to have service and emotional support pets in the dorms. Unlike service pets, your university has the right to request a doctor’s note for emotional assistance animals. 

For more information on your rights concerning pet ownership in the dorms, check out the disability services department at your university. 

Benefits of Pets in College Dorms

Here are the main benefits of bringing your pets with you to college:

A Remedy for Homesickness

When you’re with a pet, even if you just got them, you’re less lonely. It isn’t easy adjusting to dorm life, so having that companionship is a clutch when you’re feeling down or stressed out. 

Physical Health

If you have a dog, going on walks will encourage physical exercise. No matter what they say…the freshman 15 is real. Beware. 

Emotional Health

Aside from the critical aid that emotional support animals play in many students’ lives, even people who do not require such medical assistance benefit from being with their furry friend. For example, pet ownership can boost your mood and ease stress. 

Challenges of Bringing Pets with You to College

A female college student cradling her dog in her lap while studying in the living room.

There are also downsides to pet ownership while in college and in the dorms. Here are the primary cons:

It Takes up a Lot of Time

Walks, feeding, playing, going to the store, and all other pet-related chores require time. And in college, time is everything. And yes, I mean for both working hard and playing hard. It’s essential to have a healthy social life, people! 

Pets Are Distracting

Sometimes for the better, but sometimes as a major issue. When you need to hunker down and study, you may be more inclined to look at that cute face. I don’t blame you. 

Your Roommates or Hallmates Might Complain

It may be awesome to have a pet on the dorm room floor in the first week, but it might be annoying to others if they are loud. And let’s face it. Sadly, not everyone’s a pet lover.

Something Fishy in your Dorm

Fish are pretty much the only type of pet that most colleges in the U.S. allow in student housing. And of these fish, universities tend to ban carnivorous fish. The good news is you can’t go wrong with a cute little betta fish! Just be sure to take care of them correctly

Pets That Might Be Allowed

A hand stroking the skin of an iguana with its eyes closed.

Amphibians

You might be able to own an amphibian while living in your dorm room. Smaller amphibians like frogs and salamanders are perfect for student housing, especially if you have a relatively small space to work in the first place. 

Reptiles

Your dorm room could possibly allow reptiles such as lizards or nonpoisonous snakes. And just in case it goes without saying…no, don’t bring a large and dangerous reptile like an alligator into your dorm. 

Small Caged Pets

If lizards and snakes aren’t your thing, student housing policies may allow small caged animals. This could include guinea pigs, mice, rabbits, or hamsters. I suggest the hamster for anyone looking for some company during those late night study sessions. They’re nocturnal! 

Pets Least Likely to Be Allowed

A dog and a cat sleeping next to each other on the floor.

Likely, your university does not allow cats or dogs inside the dorms. Though pet-friendly housing is challenging to come by on campus, it does exist. 

Cat and Dog-Friendly US Colleges Listed by State

So, if you’re hell-bent on bringing your dog or cat with you to college, we listed out your options below:

Arkansas

Lyon College

California

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Chapman University

Stanford University

Colorado

University of Northern Colorado

Florida

Eckerd College

Stetson University

University of West Florida

Georgia

Berry College

Idaho

University of Idaho

Illinois 

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Iowa

Iowa State University

Kansas

Kansas State University

Kentucky

Asbury Theological Seminary

Maryland 

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)

Massachusetts 

Harvard University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Missouri

Stephens College

Nevada

University of Nevada, Reno

New York

Alfred State University

State University of New York at Canton

State University of New York at Potsdam

North Carolina 

Lees-McRae College

Pfeiffer University

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Ohio 

Case Western Reserve University (CWRU)

Oregon

Reed College

Pennsylvania 

Lehigh University

Moravian College

Washington and Jefferson College

Wilson College

Rhode Island

Johnson and Wales University

South Dakota 

South Dakota State University

Tennessee

Austin Peay State University

Lincoln Memorial University

Texas

Rice University

The University of Texas at San Antonio

Washington

University of Washington

West Virginia 

West Liberty University

Wyoming

University of Wyoming

Wrapping Up

A college girl hugging her dog while posing outside a college building.

The decision to bring your pet to college depends on many factors, including service animal guidelines, student housing policies, and overall, you weighing the pros and cons of a college experience with your furry friend. Though taking care of a pet can take time and money, it may totally be worth it for a true animal lover. So, are you going to bring a pet to your dorm room?

Written by The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis is a lifestyle blog about the journey of college to adulting. Here you can find the tips for college, self-improvement, adulting, and more.

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