Why pets should be allowed in the residence halls

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Miranda Wallace | Contributing Writer

“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.” –John Grogan

John Grogan is the author of Marley and Me, a very well-known book and movie about the life of one crazy dog. This quote really highlights the idea that pets can be an important part of our lives, while we are their whole lives. As a student that not only loves animals but has also adopted a puppy of my own, it is very difficult to be separated from him. Not only does he help calm my stress, but he also calms my mind and my heart when I am just a mix of emotions.

I know I am not the only one who feels comforted by the presence of their pet. As someone with diagnosed anxiety due to the overall pressures of college life, I have researched various options to help manage it. One option I have found is the comfort provided by pets. Linda Kalof, a professor of sociology and director of animal studies at Michigan State University spoke about the issue. “As a matter of fact, having a pet as a companion can do more than just relieve emotional stress. Research has shown that having pets can enhance empathy, self-esteem, and help young people find friends and confidants. Having a pet can serve as a buffer for development into adulthood.” So as a pet owner and a stressed college student I am befuddled by the fact that pets are not allowed on campus.

I completely understand the allergy concern, yet many colleges have specific dorms or floors specified for pet owners. Pet allergies are an issue the administration must take into consideration, but if a specified area was set aside it would be the responsibility of the pet owner and the allergic individual to respect each other enough to be considerate and respectful of the agreed upon arrangement. I will always love animals and will make them a part of my life’s work.

Stephens College is a college that has followed along with the pets-on-campus movement. It supports the idea that students would feel more comfortable with the transition into college if they could have a non-human companion to adjust with. They also allow the option for students who do not own their own pets to either work in the “doggie daycare” space or foster a pet from a local humane society. They do ban specific aggressive breeds, but do not make limitations on size. I think that Buena Vista University (BVU), the students, and the community would benefit from such a concept.

Storm Lake and surrounding areas have many stray dogs that need fosters. Many students and professors alike appreciate the companionship of animals. Due to the fact that BVU students are somewhat restricted in being allowed to live off campus where a student could find housing that would allow pets, I see it as unfair to not allow some sort of option for the students who would benefit from this sort of companionship. I personally would live in whichever specified area was deemed acceptable, pay an extra fee, and be responsible enough to care for my pet if I was allowed to bring my puppy to school with me. I assume many others would feel the same.

I feel it is restrictive to say I cannot spend my undergraduate years with a part of my life that brings me such unbelievable frustration, as only a puppy can, but also such unbelievable love and happiness. Just as in Marley and Me in which a family evolves with its dog, as a student at the age where personal growth is destined to occur I want to be given the chance to evolve with a relationship of unconditional love: that between a pet and their person.

Photo by Miranda Wallace