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Pets Take Bite Out of Leaving Home

pet friendly

Stressing out over an exam? Try a little puppy therapy. Research shows that interaction with pets decreases the level of cortisol (stress hormone) in people and increases endorphins (happiness hormone).

Campus critters a doggone good way to relax

Stetson University allows students to bring something with them that can make the transition to college a little easier — their pet.

“Pets can help students socialize and provide much needed emotional support throughout the academic year,” said Lua Hancock, vice provost for Campus Life and Student Success. “They are a great stress reliever, especially during finals and other exams.” Stetson has allowed pets in residence halls since 2010.

Stetson’s pet-friendly campus has been recognized by several college guides and ranking organizations. Most recently, CollegeRaptor.com put Stetson fourth on its list of pet-friendly colleges.

“We researched pet policies at colleges around the country and ranked schools roughly based on the number of types of pets allowed, and the number of facilities on campus allowing them,” said Olivia Pittman, Research and Content Specialist for CollegeRaptor.com.

A variety of pets — dogs, cats, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, fish, and others — are allowed on Stetson’s campus in two residence halls, Nemec and Stetson Cove. In 2014-15, 21 cats, 32 dogs and five small, caged mammals lived on campus. A dog park is available at Stetson Cove that allows dogs and their owners to socialize and interact with one another.

Students who want to bring their pet to campus should become familiar with Stetson’s Animal Friendly Housing Manual. The manual outlines procedures for approval as well as rules for having a pet live on campus. Rules cover everything from size and type of dog to number of pets per bedroom and what happens if an animal becomes pregnant. Pet owners and their roommates must sign an Animal Friendly roommate agreement.

Stetson also hosts a service-dog program allowing students the opportunity to train and foster future service dogs. However, service animals in training are not considered pets, and students apply with Housing and Residential Life, Center for Community Engagement and the partner organization to participate in that program.

In 2011, Stetson received the Wingate Award from the Halifax Humane Society, the area’s largest animal shelter, for furthering its mission of protecting animals from cruel and neglectful treatment and encouraging responsible pet ownership.

by Janie Graziani