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    Top Ten Pet Friendly Colleges and Universities

    Lisa Freedland By Lisa Freedland
    Lisa Freedland

    Lisa Freedland is a Scholarships360 writer with personal experience in psychological research and content writing. She has written content for an online fact-checking organization and has conducted research at the University of Southern California as well as the University of California, Irvine. Lisa graduated from the University of Southern California in Fall 2021 with a degree in Psychology.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger
    Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: November 10th, 2023
    Student with her dog at a school on our list of colleges that allow pets

    There are many factors that can go into choosing the perfect university. If you’re an animal lover, whether or not a college allows pets may be one of them. Unbeknownst to most, there are more colleges that allow pets (of some sort) than you might expect – but which schools are they? Keep on reading to find out about the top pet friendly colleges and universities and their exact pet-related policies!

    Service animals and emotional support animals

    Before we get into allowing pets on campus, let’s go over service and emotional support animals. Unlike ordinary pets, every university, whether public or private, allows service and emotional-support animals. However, there are still a few requirements that the owners of such animals must follow on campus. Such rules require that service animal owners:

    • Are responsible for the care and grooming of their animals
    • Ensure that their animals are not disruptive
    • Keep their animals under their control at all times

    So, which exact rules allow for service and emotional support animals to remain on university grounds? The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act both require that colleges allow such animals. How exactly do these policies work, though? Let’s take a look!

    Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 

    First, we have the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA focuses more specifically on service animals than assistance animals (i.e., emotional support animals) as a whole. The ADA states that campuses allow trained animals who provide specific disability-related services. Note that the ADA does not include emotional support animals. 

    However, despite the ADA’s mandate, individual colleges may inquire about how one’s animal is a service animal. In extreme (and unlikely) cases, colleges may ask for documentation of your disability. This might require demonstration of the service animal’s skills (of providing you a service).

    Further, colleges may request for the removal of certain service animals. This usually happens if animals are uncontrollable or not housebroken (potty-trained).

    On the bright side, however, universities cannot require that service animals register with their school. They also cannot charge students a fee for bringing service animals to campus.

    Fair Housing Act (FHA) 

    If you require the help of an emotional support animal, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) has you covered!

    The FHA works quite similarly to the ADA. The FHA policy allows emotional support animals (those whose presence alleviates the symptoms of someone’s disability) to live in campus housing with their owners. Further, like the ADA, universities may not charge students fees or deposits in order to live with their emotional support animals.

    Unlike the ADA, the FHA permits colleges to ask for official documentation of students’ disabilities. Universities cannot ask this of service animal owners.  

    On that note, you know all you need to know about bringing service and assistance animals to college! Let’s check out which universities allow ordinary pets on campus too.

    P.S. If you have any more questions about how and why service dogs can be taken to school, make sure to check out Can a Service Dog be Taken to School?

    Related: College dorm essentials checklist

    The most accommodating colleges that allow pets

    Often, universities will limit the type of pets that students can bring to campus.  Usually, “pet friendly” refers to smaller animals that can live in a tank (i.e., fish). But, what about the rest of our furry (and scaly) friends? 

    Well, lucky for you, there’s still a decent handful of schools that allow a wider variety of animals on campus! For now, we’ll go over just ten of them, including what type of pets each school allows on campus and the things you should know before you bring a pet to campus!

    Stephens College (Columbia, Missouri)

    • Cats and Dogs (with restrictions)
    • Birds, fish and small mammals such as rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, etc.
    • You must pre-register your pet with housing
    • Max. 1 pet per student
    • Students may have a chance to foster pets from a local shelter

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

    • Fish (20 gal or less tank)
    • Cats (in select residence halls)
    • Request formal permission from the Housing Office
    • Submit a cat registration form
    • Max. 1 cat per student

    Stetson University (DeLand, Florida)

    • Fish (10 gal or less)
    • Small caged animals
    • Cats and dogs (Size and breed restrictions apply)
    • Service animals in training are allowed
    • Must apply for approval every year you live on campus

    Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio)

    University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida)

    • Allowed pets include fish, hamsters, gerbils, lizards (no iguanas), salamanders, frogs, geckos, and chinchillas
    • Must be non-poisonous and follow the university’s size guidelines
    • Fill out a Pet Policy Agreement form
    • Receive written approval from any roommates, suitemates, and residence hall staff
    • Max. 2 pets per student

    Harvey Mudd College (Claremont, California)

    • Small, caged pets such as fish and hamsters
    • Complete a pet registration form and receive approval from suitemates or roommates

    University of Illinois (Champaign, Illinois)

    • Only those living in the Ashton Woods apartment building at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are permitted to live with pets
    • Allowed two companion pets and fish tank less than 50 gallons
    • Gain written approval from Family and graduate housing
    • Sign an animal agreement
    • Make sure pets are up to date on vaccines
    • Pay a monthly $30 animal fee

    Reed College (Portland, Oregon)

    • Small, caged pets and fish (25 gal or less tank)
    • Must register pet with residence life
    • Must receive prior approval from roommates and suitemates

    Ohio Wesleyan University (Delaware, Ohio)

    • Students may have one of the following: gerbil, hamster, guinea pigs, mice, rat
    • Fish tank (10 gal or less)
    • Students will need to gain approval and inform housing of the animal they plan to bring

    Eckerd College (St. Petersburg, Florida)

    • Smaller pets like fish, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rats, amphibians, and reptiles, on the other hand, are permitted in all complexes
    • Larger pets like cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, ferrets, and chinchillas are allowed in designated “large pet houses”
    • Cats or dogs can weigh a maximum of 40 pounds to live on campus, and students can bring a maximum of two “small pets” to live with them
    • “Larger” pets can only be brought after a student’s first semester is completed

    Check your college’s pet policy

    Before we move on, keep in mind that these are not all the schools that allow pets. So, if your future (or prospective) college isn’t one of the 10 listed above, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t bring your beloved pet along with you to college. To check whether your university will allow pets or not, we recommend searching “Your university’s name pet policy” on any search engine, and the answer to your question should be available!

    Common pet policies 

    If you are planning on bringing a pet to campus (and your school allows it), there’s a few common pet policies that you should keep in mind. While some schools will only enforce a small fraction of these, some may enforce all, and others may impose none. Whichever is true for your university, we recommend checking which ones your university requires before you bring a pet to campus. You can do so by once again looking up “Your university’s name pet policy” or emailing the housing faculty at your school. 

    Here are some common pet policies across college campuses:

    • Most colleges allow fish
    • Most colleges do not allow cats and dogs
    • Some colleges allow reptiles, amphibians, and small caged pets (think hamsters of chinchillas), though there may be a limit to how large a pet’s cage or tank can be
    • Pet owners may have to register their pet with the housing office and pay pet deposits
    • Colleges may require that cats and dogs be spayed/neutered, fully vaccinated and fully potty-trained
    • Pet owners will likely have to get permission from their roommates or other residents to bring pets, or will be required to live in single occupancy dorms
    • Carnivorous fish and more aggressive/territorial dog breeds may not be allowed, as well as poisonous pets (e.g., venomous snakes) may not be allowed

    Keep in mind that these rules are for students who plan on living in campus housing. If your college does not allow the type of pet that you wish to bring, living off-campus is an option. Just remember that off-campus housing often has certain requirements and rules for those who wish to bring pets. 

    Also see: Top questions to ask on a college visit

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • Each college will have their own pet policies that you should be aware of before bringing any pets to campus
    • Even if a college allows pets, they may still require you to fill out special forms and get the permission of your roommates before allowing any pets in campus housing 
    • If you do wish to bring a pet to campus, make sure it is something that you have time for and can take care of well while being in classes full time
    • If you have a service animal for a disability, you should speak with your schools accessibility office as you will likely be given different policies that you’ll need to follow

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    Frequently asked questions about pet-friendly colleges

    What is the best pet for a college student?

    What’s most important is that students have the time and energy to take care of their college pets. One way to ensure this is to get a lower-maintenance pet (i.e., one that doesn’t require constant attention to thrive). What type of pets would this include, though? Some fun, low-maintenance pets that are (relatively) easy to take care of include fish and reptiles (small lizards, snakes, turtles). Also, furrier friends like hamsters, gerbils, rats and guinea pigs might fit well. To read more about the best pets for college, we recommend checking out The Best Pets for College Students!

    Does Harvard allow pets in dorms?

    Harvard does allow pets in certain sections of university housing. Most of the requirements that you read above in this article are similar to the requirements that Harvard has. If you want exact details about a pet policy, it is best to reach out to housing and residence life at your school directly to get the most accurate and up to date information.

    When should you notify a college that you have a pet?

    If you plan to bring a pet to college, you should notify your school immediately. It’s always better to start these processes sooner rather than later. That way you will have ample time to compile any necessary documentation, supplies for your pet, and even transportation to bring your pet to school.

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