Can I Bring My Dog With Me to College?

Question: Can I bring my dog with me when I go to college in a year?

The vast majority of colleges and universities do not allow pets in campus housing, and students who assume that Fido (who never barks, of course 😉 ) can fly under the radar, are usually quickly busted. In fact, it can sometimes be a matter of only days before some conscientious Resident Advisor (or a highly-allergic suite mate) will report the infraction to administrators. The human violator is often stuck with a fine or–at the very least–with the inconvenience of having to relocate the pet just as classes are getting under way.

Service animals are a different story, and a growing number of colleges are now home to therapy dogs that help students not only in traditional areas such as seeing and hearing but also with anxiety and other emotional disorders. If your dog is a service dog, be sure to check with the colleges you’re considering well in advance of enrolling to ask about policies regarding where on campus you can live and what documentation you’ll need.

Yet there ARE colleges that allow assorted furry (or scaly) friends to share dorm space with the students, even when the animal is not there for therapeutic purposes. So, if you haven’t already applied to college, this article can help you hone in on some of the pet-friendly options: https://lendedu.com/blog/pet-friendly-colleges/  There are also several threads on College Confidential, such as this one, http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/discussion/571072/pet-friendly-colleges/ , that mention the pet policies at additional schools.

If you’re planning (and allowed) to live off-campus, you may have more leeway when it comes to bringing your dog to school. However, landlords in college areas are notorious for staunch “No Pets” edicts. Many have witnessed  the damage that under-supervised pets can cause, and they’ve also seen far too many neglected animals whose student owners are too busy with their collegiate undertakings to devote appropriate attention to an animal.

And this is a really important point. College life can mean classes during the day, extracurricular activities or jobs in the afternoon and evening, and socializing (or more activities) at night.  Even the most well-intended student/pet owners can find that they don’t have ample time to give their pet the necessary attention.

So while you may hate the thought of leaving a beloved dog at home when you head to college, you really need to put the animal’s best interest first and say a tearful goodbye until your first vacation, along with the promise of a few FaceTime chats before then.

(posted 6/30/2017)