Why Pets Should Be Allowed on College Campuses

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College can be rough at times. Sometimes you need something to help relieve your stress, and what better than that is a pet? They have multiple benefits, and it’s been noted that student’s may do better in school with a pet. Pets are loved by many people, and one thing that college students miss while they’re away at school, is their pets. Most people love to have a furry, feathery or scaley friend to care for. Slippery Rock University, would benefit greatly in allowing pets on campus. Pets should be allowed on college campuses, the reason I believe this are because they help reduce stress and anxiety, depression, and help students succeed in school overall.

As mentioned above, pets help reduce stress. Interacting with a dog or cat raises our level of serotonin and dopamine, which are hormones that calm our nervous system. They make us smile at their cuteness, which releases our ‘happy hormones’. Our stress hormone is called cortisol; and interacting with a friendly dog lowers that and releases oxytocin, another stress relieving chemical in our body. Simply stroking a pet can lower blood pressure, which lowers stress. Studies have shown that dogs can even help aggressive or hyperactive children (Monroe). A Human Animal Bond Research Institute found that veterans living with PTSD had better mental health and well-being if they have a service dog. Some of these included: lower symptoms of post-traumatic stress, higher levels of life satisfaction, lower levels of social isolation and greater ability to partake in social activities.

Secondly, they help with anxiety. “Not only are people happier in the presence of animals, they’re also healthier. In a survey of pet owners, 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership, and 75% of pet owners reported a friend’s or family member’s mental health has improved from pet ownership” (Feldman). This article mentions that they call this ‘the Pet Effect’. Another article states that they did a study with children and dogs. “In fact, 21 percent of the children who did not have a pet dog tested positive on a screening test for anxiety. However, only 12 percent of children with dogs tested positive for anxiety”. In another study, a group of stressed adults went to touch a rabbit, turtle or toy. The toy did nothing, however; when they touched the rabbit or turtle, they relieved anxiety.

Depression is a common and sad thing, especially in college students. Animals are a great way to help reduce or event prevent depression. Loneliness is a common part of depression, and pets can eliminate that feeling of loneliness. They show you love, compassion and comfort. You may think about if the pets aren’t dogs, but an animal that doesn’t interact to people as much, will that affect anything? Well, even if the pets don’t interact as much, they can still help with mental health. In 2016, a group of elderly people were given five crickets in a cage. They monitored their moods for eight weeks and compared them to people who were not caring for anything. The group with crickets became less depressed in those eight weeks (Monroe).

Freshman or transfer students are especially more stressed and are still in the process of finding new friend groups, so they could use a companion. Having a pet could also help students feel more at home when staying in a dorm. “We might not think of college students as being lonely, but a lot of freshman and sophomores are in an early transition from living at home to living in dorms or off-campus. College is a very stressful environment for them and sometimes they can feel isolated or overwhelmed with the change. We found that a lot of young adults are choosing to have an animal companion for important reasons. Many feel their pets will help get them through these difficult and stressful situations, and many more say that without their pet, they would feel lonely”. It continues by saying: “College students living far from home may find it harder to deal with difficult situations because they are thrown into a new environment and expected to find their way, often for the first time in their lives” (‘College Students Find Comfort in Their Pets During Hard Times’). Another article also mentions this. They asked why they had pets, and companionship was the most common answer. “College students were more likely than the older participants to say their pet helps them get through hard times. That may be because college freshmen are in a transition period and haven't yet built their social network and resources for coping” (Hitti). Many articles and studies say similar things, most being beneficial reasons for pets.

Many colleges, such as Slippery Rock University, are only allowed a pet fish. While that is better than nothing, a fish may not suit people’s needs, such as physical touch. For some people, just watching a fish swim around can calm them down, but for others, that may not be the case. “There’s not one answer about how a pet can help somebody with a specific condition. Is your goal to increase physical activity? Then you might benefit from owning a dog. You have to walk a dog several times a day and you’re going to increase physical activity. If your goal is reducing stress, sometimes watching fish swim can result in a feeling of calmness. So, there’s no one type fits all” (‘The Power of Pets’). As stated, there’s not one type that can suit everyone’s needs, which is why only a fish is too limited.

I made a survey, asking students from SRU why they think pets should be allowed, and what pets they would want. One of the responses responded to the question “Should colleges allow pets on campus?” with the answer “Yes, because pets can help keep colleges kinds mental state high”. I also asked the question “Let’s say dogs and cats aren’t allowed because of barking and allergies, what pet would you want otherwise?”, and they answered: “Lizard”. The responses also varied answers including reasons of helping mental health, encouraging exercise, and helping with anxiety or depression. The answers for the second question were 60% dog and 40% cat. The next questions answers were varied between a hamster, lizard, rabbit, or ferret (Fallavollitti). This shows the diversity of the types of pets wanted, which further supports the evidence that there is not one type for everyone.

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Understandably, there may have to be some restrictions for this to work out. For example, dogs may be an issue to because of barking and possibly chewing up important things in the dorms. Cats could be an issue as well because of shedding, scratching and allergies. the solution could be a compromise, such as hamsters, guinea pigs, reptiles, ferrets, rabbits, birds or mice. These animals are small, quiet, caged and easy to take care of. This gives people a variety while not causing noise or allergy issues. An example is Kansas State University. “At Kansas State University, pets are allowed in the dorms as long as the pet is small and relatively quiet. This includes small rodents, reptiles, birds and insects. Some students even have exotic pets such as a chinchilla or a sugar glider. Animals not accustomed to containment such as dogs and cats are not allowed (‘Small Pets Beneficial to Students, Should Be Allowed in Dorm Rooms’). I included this example because this University is an example of how it can be worked out if we add some rules here and there. The article also mentions that the roommate has to agree on having a pet, which is understandable. There can be additional paperwork where all roommates need to sign in order to keep the pets, and even have medical or allergy papers if needed. This way, it’s proven that everyone is okay with having pets and could even prevent future conflict.

Let’s say dogs and cats do become allowed on Slippery Rock’s campus, there are many benefits of them. To fix the problem of noise complaints do to barking and such, there could be designated dorms for dog and cat owners. Any damages done in the dorms from the pet will be the students responsibility. That may be hard to do, but it’s possible! While there may be a few downsides, the positives of owning a dog or cat outweigh the negatives. The first benefit is that dogs can teach you responsibility. Owning a dog takes a lot of responsibility to care for, while college teaches student’s about growing up and being independent. A dog can help teach that as well, because you can’t leave a dog alone for too long, since it needs to be fed, played with and exercised. Speaking of exercise, they promote just that! They can help get you outside and active by taking them on a walk. Even just running around the room can help get a little bit of exercise. Dogs will always be by your side and can help in more ways than you think. “Unlike people who may not stick to you during your dark moments, pets are always with you through it all. With their positive impacts on student’s psychological benefits, self-esteem and combating depression, owning a dog in college can the best decision a student can make” (Guzman). They can be a positive influence to have responsibility of a dog, and even just being in the presence of one can help improve social skills, health and emotions.

Cats serve many benefits as well. Cats are better for the environment they eat less and are more likely to east fish than beef. Cats also can help you cope. They are shown to help people show less signs of physical pain, like crying. They can serve as social support animals during difficult times. Talking to your pet while mourning can help work out their feelings, since it’s easier to talk to something that can’t judge like a human being. They are also very good for stress relieving and are less maintenance than dogs. Petting a cat is positive and calming, and it’s even found that cat owners are 30% less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than non-cat owners. Also, sleeping with cats can help you sleep better. In fact, 41% of people said they slept better with a cat. Finally, cats can save lives! They have a reputation of not caring about things, but they have saved many lives over the years. One cat warns her owner when he is about to have an epileptic seizure, while another cat woke up its two humans when a gas pipe started to leak. Firefighters told them that the house could have exploded if the cat hadn’t intervened (‘10 Scientific Benefits of Being a Cat Owner’). With this information, dogs and cats may have a few downsides, but the positives can easily outweigh those negatives.

Hamsters are a good example of a small pet that could be reasonable to have on a campus. First, they are affordable, around twenty dollars. This makes it easy and cheap to get. The most you will spend on a hamster is around eighty dollars because most of the money will be spent on the cage and accessories. They are also very cheap to feed, as they are small and the bags of food are big, so they will last a long time. The habitat needs are very small and won’t cost much. All they need are bedding and stuff to climb on or in. Hamsters don’t need a lot of social interaction, so when you’re in class or doing homework, they won’t bother you. They are easy to clean up after, have no special grooming or training and take up little space (Demidova). Hamsters also can exercise themselves, they can hop on their wheel and run till their hearts content, and you don’t have to get up to walk them. They’re friendly, small, low maintenance and cute! (Phillips).

Therapy and emotional support animals are a thing at SRU, but that isn’t available to everyone. You would have to go through the department of disabilities and have a therapist sign papers, when some people may not have access to a therapist. Emotional support animals are very important, but I believe pets should be available to everyone, with certain limits that may be needed. That way, everyone will have the chance of feeling the love and support of their pets.

Pets are loved by many people. Not only are they loved, but they serve many benefits to people, college students especially. The positives outweigh the negatives, and there can be solutions to fix those negatives. There’s not one type of pet that fits all, and every pet has a different benefit than the other. No matter what pet you have, they will show you feelings of love, companionship and happiness.

In conclusion, pets are a great thing to have in college for many reasons. The reasons of positive effects and psychological benefits, including helping with anxiety, depression, and overall doing better in school, are the reasons pets should be allowed on not only SRU, but all college campuses.

Works Cited

  1. “College Students Find Comfort In Their Pets During Hard Times”. ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 28 Dec. 2008, http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081223091318.htm
  2. Demidova, Ekaterina. “10 Amazing Benefits of Owning a Hamster”. Amerikanki, 1 Feb. 2019, http://pets.amerikanki.com/benefits-owning-hamster/
  3. Feldman, Steven, et al. “Alleviating Anxiety, Stress and Depression with the Pet Effect”. Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, http://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/alleviating-anxiety-stress-and-depression-pet
  4. Guzman, Itzel Rodriguez. “CAN HAVING A DOG HELP YOU GET BETTER GRADES?” Pawstruck Press, 26 Oct. 2018, http://blog.pawstruck.com/can-having-a-dog-help-you-get-better-grades/
  5. Hitti, Miranda. “Pets Comfort College Students”. WebMD, WebMD, 26 Dec. 2008, http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20081226/pets-comfort-college-students
  6. “How Science Supports Pets for Improving Your Mental Health”. Mental Health America, http://mhanational.org/blog/how-science-supports-pets-improving-your-mental-health
  7. Monroe, Jamison. “10 Ways Pets and Mental Health Go Together”. Newport Academy, Newport Academy, 4 June 2018, http://newportacademy.com/resources/well-being/pets-and-mental-health/
  8. Phillips, Catherine. “18 Reasons Why Hamsters Are the Best Pets”. 12 Dec. 2019, http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/19/18-reasons-why-hamsters-make-the-best-pets-6719205/
  9. Robinson, Lawrence. “The Health and Mood-Boosting Benefits of Pets”. HelpGuide.org, http://helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/mood-boosting-power-of-dogs.htm
  10. “Small Pets Beneficial to Students, Should Be Allowed in Dorm Rooms”. Oucampus, http://oucampus.org/news/view.php/662408/Small-pets-beneficial-to-students-should
  11. “The Power of Pets”. National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 6 Apr. 2020, http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/02/power-pets
  12. “10 Scientific Benefits of Being a Cat Owner”. Mental Floss, 31 May 2017, http://mentalfloss.com/article/51154/10-scientific-benefits-being-cat-owner
  13. Fallavollitti, Alyssa. “Should Pets Be Allowed on College Campuses?” 12 November 2020, https://www.surveymonkey.com/stories/SM-D6B5MCHY/
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Why Pets Should Be Allowed on College Campuses. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/why-pets-should-be-allowed-on-college-campuses/
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