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Advice on whether to bring Fluffy or Fido along to college

Friday, September 12, 2008

One of the many transitions thrust on freshmen going off to college is saying good-bye to the family pet. But guess what: Although college dorms have traditionally been known as pet-free zones, a handful are now allowing certain animals in selected residence halls to give students a more homey feeling about their living space.

Here are some things to consider before you add Fluffy to your list of college creature comforts:

* If your pet is important to you, explore the possibility of keeping pets on your school's campus. The majority of colleges, of course, do ban pets, except for the occasional goldfish, for students living on campus. Off campus housing can be a bit more flexible, depending on the rules of your landlord.

* Some animal experts feel that it would be better if students did not take their pet with them or adopt a new one during their college years. "We believe that college is both a stressful time and a fun time and primarily a very busy time, so to bring a pet into that environment may not be the best thing for the pets," said Nancy Peterson, an issues specialist at the Humane Society of the United States. Peterson said students would be better off waiting until after they graduate to get a cat or a dog, when they will have more time to devote to their care.

Right now, MIT allows cats in certain dorms with designated cat-friendly-zones, provided they have all their immunizations and are spayed or neutered. Since 1996, the State University of New York at Canton has had two floors in a residence hall set aside for a "pet wing." There are 24 double rooms where students are allowed to keep small caged animals including lizards, turtles, hamsters, rabbits and mice as well as cats. Snakes, birds and dogs are not allowed, according to Courtney Battista, director of residence life at SUNY Canton. "The rooms are in high demand and it's worked very well for us," Battista said.


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