Dogs leave paw prints across college campuses
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Policies change to include more pets in residence halls

Brae Blackmore, Hood College senior, enjoys a visit with her
daschund, Clare.


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A growing number of colleges across the nation are altering their previously restrictive pet policies for a variety of reasons, including stress reduction and social support.  As broad as the term "pet" is, so are the various policies, and the most popular are inclusive of dogs, one of America's most common pets.

Including pets on campus gives colleges a unique marketing device as well as a dynamic atmosphere.  According to's Top 10 Pet-Friendly Colleges, the top three colleges are Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., and Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa. 

All of these colleges set aside specific housing for students with pets.  The restrictions and perks of each college's policy vary based on school.  According to the U.S. News & World Report's top 10 pet-friendly collegeslist, Stephens offers amenities such as doggy daycare. 

Because housing animals on campus adds to the already complex logistics of housing hundreds or thousands of students, many colleges enforce some variation of a board of directors for pets.  These boards ensure that pet owners, others on campus, and the animals themselves adhere to all of the rules and regulations.


The healthy side of pet ownership

Studies report that pets decrease blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as feelings of loneliness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Additionally, dogs increase physical well-being because they need exercise.

According to Deborah Sudduth, a staff counselor at the Hood College Wellness Center in Frederick, Md., pets "help you have a schedule."  She also recommends spending time with pets as a healthy way to cope with stress.

Sudduth knows that simply the companionship of animals can help students deal with the many stresses they face, such as finances, uncomfortable feelings, time management, and peer relationships.

Pamela Wahl, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Virginia-Maryland Dog, agrees that mentally pets provide many benefits, especially for depressed people or those that cannot express their emotions easily with other humans.  "Owning pets gives people a purpose," Wahl said.

Pet ownership is also a simple joy as well as a stress reliever.  Daniel Grose, facility coordinator and board member of Wags for Hope, said that if he had attended a pet friendly college, "I would look forward to getting out of class and getting back to the dorm and scratching my dog."


Frederick may have 'gone to the dogs,' but not Hood College

Despite dog-friendliness throughout Frederick, Hood College is not among the nation's colleges and universities that allow pets in dormitories.  Wahl, a Frederick resident, believes that Hood is an ideal environment to experiment with pets on campus.

Wahl thinks that by Hood pouring a little money now into revising the policy to allow pets, the school would gain it back in different ways later.  A certain area could be sectioned off for pets and dogs could be Good Citizen tested to ensure their behavior is up to par with living in a social environment, Wahl suggested.

While it would be an adjustment for the campus community, it would also be an adjustment for the pets. "The animal is leaving home and they have a lot of emotions that people don't give them near the credit they need to," Wahl said.

However, Frederick is a very welcoming city for dogs so they would not always need to be shut away in residence halls.  Downtown Frederick offers Baker Park to romp and play in, an off-leash dog park on North Bentz Street, and a multitude of dog-friendly dining and shopping opportunities. 

After the first Dog Days of Summer event downtown, Kara Norman, Executive Director of the Downtown Frederick Partnership, said that the idea of dog-friendliness stuck.  "The merchant community had such a great response that they decided not just that particular day but 365 days a year [would be dog-friendly]," Norman said.  "I think what [the businesses] have learned is that customers really appreciate [dog-friendliness] and will travel from long distances to go there."

And the same could most likely be said for Hood College, which could utilize its pet-friendly campus as an excellent marketing tool to recruit a broader demographic of students.

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