Should pets go to Peace?

A small turtle walking along the floor.

Peace has a no-pet policy, with the exception of fish in smaller tanks, yet we all know someone who lives on campus with a pet other than a fish.
Now that I live off campus, I can openly confess that when I lived on campus I was in violation of that policy.
I came to Peace with my pet turtle, Rex, and he immediately became a loved member of our suite. Rex gained a number of Aunts and they all gained a great listener, cuddle buddy, and source of entertainment. Having him around seemed to keep the homesickness at bay and lightened the mood in an extreme way, especially during exam weeks.
I had friends who, when they’d had a particularly rough day or just needed some cheering up, would come over and “play” with Rex.
Juliana Gibbs, a former Peace student, said, “Rex living on campus was a delight… he was quite the popular guy on the once all girls campus.”
I have personally visited other college campuses with no-pet policies where pets are even more frequent than they are at Peace. I’ve had friends with bearded dragons, birds, hamsters, dogs, cats, and ferrets all in violation of their colleges’ pet policies.
Research suggests that interaction with pets increases endorphins and decreases cortisol; increasing happiness and decreasing stress. Peace student, Hannah Murphy explains that “pets help give the dorm room a sense of comfort and hominess, it changes the whole atmosphere of the dorm, as well as the day itself”.
Many colleges and universities are realizing this epidemic and turning to therapy dogs for stress relief for their students, allowing professors to bring their animals to campus and even having resident dogs and cats in the counseling or study areas.
Emory University, Kent State University, Macalester College, and Harvard University have all added dogs to their counseling centers. Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School have both implemented check out policies for their resident therapy dogs. Stephens College, Eckerd College, Washington & Jefferson College and the University of Illinois are among the growing number of schools who have designated certain pet-friendly residence halls.
Further research on these dog friendly campuses shows that when a tragedy occurs within the campus community students flock to the therapy dog teams.
It seems that students all over the country are bonding with these animals in order to release emotion in a completely confidential way.
The problem is what happens to these pets when school is not in session. Of course professors’ animals and college owned therapy animals are taken care of, but students who adopt pets and then cannot care for them on breaks or after graduation are the worry.
The number of strays spotted on college campuses goes up in the months of December, May, June, and July. Almost ninety percent of shelter animals are surrendered because of the owner’s inability to care for their animal. Cost and permanence are the two biggest and unfortunately most ignored factors that students must consider.
Certain pet shelters near college campuses will not allow a student to adopt a pet without a parental signature stating that they will care for the animal if their child becomes unable. The ASPCA suggests that the best solution to these problems is for students to volunteer with local shelters help socialize, visit, or walk animals that do not have homes.

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