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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Campus

Pets registered in housing increase college experience, students say


Pets on campus Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

A part of going around campus is seeing people walk their pets outside. While pets on campus may be a common sighting, there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into letting animals stay as campus residents.

University policy limits who can have a pet in on-campus housing and establishes a process that every student wanting to have a pet while living in University housing has to go through. 

“Generally, having animals of any type in University housing is prohibited,” said UH spokesperson Shawn Lindsey.

“The University will consider a request by an individual with a disability for reasonable accommodation from this prohibition to allow an emotional support animal that is necessary because of a disability.” 

During her time on campus, accounting alumna Iole Bispo could often be found sitting at the fountain with her dog Lucy. Bispo loved taking Lucy to the food trucks for a quick, refreshing break before going back home to the University Lofts. 

“Life on campus with a dog is honestly amazing,” Bispo said. “I wish I had gone through the process way sooner because it made me enjoy school so much more.”

The only exception to this policy is for service animals as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Acts as Amended. 

The process to acquire a service animal typically requires registering the pet with the Center for Students with DisABILITIES and providing the appropriate documentation during the appointment. 

“If the doctor recommends it, then you just need to set up your appointment with the CSD and go through that whole process,” said Bispo.

“Getting an appointment with the CSD was more of a struggle than getting her registered as an ESA online.” 

As of March 20, there are 33 students who have registered pets with the CSD. 13 of those pets are cats and 21 are dogs.

The data does not include pets considered service animals or Residential Life Coordinators and Faculty in Residence who may have pets, as they are not required to register with the CSD. 

Reports show living with a pet in college comes with a variety of benefits. From having a companion to get you through the difficulties of college, to feeling like you have a greater purpose, pets can often change your college experience in a positive manner, according to the report.

“When you have a living thing to take care of instead of just worrying about yourself, it really keeps you motivated to make sure they are happy and enjoying life,” Bispo said. 

Before living with a dog in college, Bispo said she would be late to class often and would spend time between classes in her room. Bringing Lucy into her life dramatically changed her college experience.

“It really helped me (get exercise) and meet a lot of people on campus since my dog is super friendly and loves people,” Bispo said. “I also got an awesome consistent daily schedule that kept me busy and kept my mind on her throughout the day instead of other things.” 

The various policies regarding pets in University housing make the process seem daunting, but as Bispo makes clear, it is all worth it in the end. 

“As long as you have the right mindset and really love your pet, it could be life changing,” Bispo said. “I honestly think life is so much better with a dog period.”

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