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Top Ten Pet Friendly Colleges and Universities

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!

Related: How to choose a college

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:

  1. Are responsible for the care and grooming of their animals
  2. Ensure that their animals are not disruptive and
  3. 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.

Also see: How to pay for housing

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 their exact pet-related policies.

1. University of Idaho

The University of Idaho allows University Apartment residents to bring fish (in a tank or aquarium that is 10 gallons maximum), cats (that are already spayed or neutered), and birds (must always be caged). In order to bring such pets into their apartments, students must pre-register their pets with Housing & Residence Life. A maximum of two pets are allowed per apartment, and unusually nervous or aggressive pets are not permitted.

Alternatively, if you’re planning on bringing your service or emotional support animal to campus housing, check out Animals on Campus to read more about the University of Idaho guidelines for assistance animals.

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

With the exception of fish (in tanks no larger than 20 gallons), pets are prohibited in the vast majority of MITs undergraduate/graduate residence halls. Students living in Random Hall or one of the ten East Campus residence halls, however, may be eligible to participate in a program that allows them to bring a cat to campus (and their residence itself)! MIT allows one cat per student in campus housing and in areas deemed “cat-friendly.” Further, students planning on bringing cats to campus must receive approval from the Housing Office and submit a cat registration form. To find out more about this cat policy (and how you can apply for it), check out MIT’s pet (specifically cats) information page.

3. Stetson University

Compared to the majority of universities around the country, Stetson University is extremely pet-friendly! They allow students to live with service and emotional support animals on campus housing. Stetson also allows pets and service dogs in training. Fish (in a maximum 10-gallon tank), small caged animals, cats, and dogs (only certain breeds and sizes) are welcome in a select number of residence halls. Students planning on bringing a pet (with the exception of fish) to campus housing must apply annually for approval to do so. To read more about the specifics of Stetson University’s pet policy, check out Stetson’s Animal Friendly Housing Guide!

4. Case Western Reserve University

At Case Western Reserve University, as long as your roommate is okay with it, students may bring “small, caged, non-poisonous animals, or fish” to live with them in the residence halls. Larger pets like dogs, cats, or ferrets, however, are not allowed. In order to bring their pets to campus, students at Case Western must complete a Pet Registration form and have it signed by their roommates, suitemates/apartment-mates, and their Coordinator or Assistant Director. Check out Case Western’s Pet Policy to read more about their pet-related guidelines.

5. University of Florida

After filling out a Pet Policy Agreement Form and receiving written approval from any roommates, suitemates, and residence hall staff, students at the University of Florida are permitted to bring a number of different types of pets to their residence hall. Such pets may include fish, hamsters, gerbils, lizards (no iguanas), salamanders, frogs, geckos, and chinchillas! All pets must be non-poisonous and follow the university’s size guidelines. At maximum, students can bring two pets to accompany them in their residence, and their pets must be taken with them if they choose to leave for holidays or school breaks. To find out more about the University of Florida’s pet policies, check out their Community Standards.

6. Harvey Mudd College

Although cats and dogs are not permitted in Harvey Mudd’s residential housing, residents are allowed to bring small, caged pets such as fish and hamsters. In order to bring such pets to their residence, students must complete a pet registration form and receive approval from their roommates and/or suitemates. If pets are not registered before being brought to campus, students will incur a $50 fine and may receive charges if the pet is not subsequently removed. To read the specifics of Harvey Mudd’s pet policy, check out their Residence Hall Policies.

7. University of Illinois

Only those living in the Ashton Woods apartment building at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are permitted to live with pets. Those who are planning on bringing pets to the building must gain approval from Family & Graduate Housing, sign an animal agreement, and make sure that their pets are up-to-date on vaccinations. Residents with pets must pay a $30 monthly animal fee. Each apartment has a limit of two pets. To find out more about the building’s pet policies, check out the Ashton Woods Family Policy and Agreement.

Keep in mind that the building only houses upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, students with families, veterans, faculty, and other staff. Lower-division undergraduate students are not usually allowed to bring pets on campus.

8. Reed College

Located in Portland, Oregon, Reed College allows all students to bring small, caged pets and fish to live with them. Students may have one small cage per room. Aquariums or tanks can hold a maximum of 25 gallons of water. Students must register their pet with Residence Life before bringing their animal to campus. Pet owners must also receive prior approval from roommates or suitemates. To find out more about Reed College’s pet guidelines, check out Pets & Animal Guidelines.

9. Ohio Wesleyan University

Ohio Wesleyan University permits students to live with one of the following animals per student: gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, and rats. Besides these, students are also allowed to keep more than one fish in a tank or aquarium that holds a maximum of 10 gallons of water. Any animals besides those already listed are strictly prohibited in the residence halls. They will be taken to a local shelter or Humane Society if found, so, please do not bring any prohibited animals. To find out more about Ohio Wesleyan’s animal and pet policy, check out the university’s Frequently Asked Questions.

10. Eckerd College

Last, but certainly not least, is Eckerd College! Eckerd is extremely pet-friendly, even ranking #1 on multiple lists of the country’s most “pet-friendly colleges,” and there’s good reason for it. Larger pets like cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, ferrets, and chinchillas are allowed in designated “large pet houses.” Smaller pets like fish, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rats, amphibians, and reptiles, on the other hand, are permitted in all complexes. 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. While small pets can be brought to campus at any time, “larger” pets can only be brought after a student’s first semester is completed. Check out Pet Life to find out more about Eckerd College’s inclusive pet policy!

And those are just 10 of the most pet friendly colleges and universities throughout the nation! 

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!

Also see: Greek life: pros and cons

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)
  • Some universities will only allow students who live in a single room (without roommates) to bring pets
  • Pet owners may have to register their pet with the housing office
  • Pet owners may be required to pay pet deposits
  • Colleges may require that cats and dogs be spayed/neutered
  • Pet owners will likely have to get permission from their roommates or other residents to bring pets
  • Colleges may only allow housebroken (potty-trained) pets
  • Colleges may require pets to have all their necessary vaccinations
  • Carnivorous fish and more aggressive/territorial dog breeds may not be allowed
  • Poisonous pets (e.g., venomous snakes) may not be allowed
  • There may be a limit on how large a pet’s cage or tank can be

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. 

We wish you the best in college, and hope that you love it as much as you love animals!

Also see: Top questions to ask on a college visit

Frequently asked questions 

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!