Dogs leave paw prints across college campuses
A product of CMA 304 Online Journalism


The down side of dogs on campus

Not all pet-friendly changes on campus have a positive outcome.  "I think if everyone were allowed to have pets then we would be running a zoo," said Danielle Weaver, area coordinator of Meyran Hall and the College-leased apartments at Hood.

In Appendix A of the Code of Conduct, the college defends its policy, stating: "Animals require commitment and a lot of care, and may be an annoyance to other residents.  They can also create a health hazard within the confined living environment of a residence hall."

Even though the Apartments at Sunset allow pets, Hood residents who live there are still abiding by Hood policy, according to Weaver.  While she thinks some residents could properly handle the responsibilities of pet ownership, she also feels others could not.

"There's no way to streamline a process so only a few can have pets.  If you say yes to one then you need a reason to say yes or no to another," Weaver said.  Also, by allowing everyone to own pets, the conflict of two to four animals within one living environment can also be troublesome, Weaver said.

Wahl can see the negatives from the animal's perspective as well.  She is disappointed that in society, "animals are considered…second-rate citizens."  This comes into play especially with health concerns for pets and the financial obligation of being an owner. 

Personally, Wahl had to struggle with the expense of her one dog that was sick for an extended time.  When her friends asked why she did not just euthanize him she insisted, "Putting him down is not an option.  He doesn't deserve nor need to be put down, but he can't be without oxygen."


Barking good alternatives

Since pet ownership in a campus community presents a plethora of challenges, for now many schools acknowledge the benefits of animals by allowing them on campus in alternative ways. 

For example, the therapy-dog organization Wags for Hope visited Hood in the past during the stressful exam period, but this is only a temporary fix.  "It relieved stress at the time [students] were engaged with the animal," Grose said.  "When they were done, would I feel confident in saying their stress didn't return once we left?  No, I'm sure it did."

Yale University's law school has its own therapy dog, Monty.  Monty is owned by one of the librarians and students can "check him out" for 30-minute sessions as a stress-reliever.

On therapy dogs, Wahl thinks this is a good idea. "There could be a lot of programs, for instance shelter dogs could be brought in.  To me I could see it applied toward credits," Wahl said. 

A similar alternative exists at Ithaca College where select students can train dogs for the Guiding Eyes for the Blind program and keep them as pets. 

Part of choosing a college means choosing an environment that suits a student well.  So whether pets are integrated in college communities in large or small ways, their inclusion appears to be a trend and comfort to many students across the nation.

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Pamela Wahl (center) sits in as a judge for the dog costume contest at
the Howl-O-Wine Festival


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A crowd gathers near Frederick, Md. to taste wine and enjoy the day with pets.