Students Can Take Some Pets to College

         Question: My daughter is just beginning to look at colleges. She is absolutely in love with horseback riding. Are there any colleges that will let her take her horse with her? If not, she plans to stay at home and go to the community college. Do colleges ever allow other pets to accompany students? -- Animal Lover

         Answer: Actually, a surprising number of colleges allow pet lovers to bring their animals with them. Your daughter might be wise to investigate those schools that have equestrian sports programs, as they are likely to allow students to bring their horses to campus and board them. Start this investigation now, and your daughter may find many schools that will allow her horse to come to college with her. She should also consider the possibility of finding a stable close to a school where she could board her horse.

         Cat, bird, fish, turtle and gerbil lovers are allowed to keep their pets in their rooms at many schools. Some schools even allow students to bring snakes. Students need to check on individual school policies well before bringing a pet on campus. They also should check with roommates to make sure that a pet will be welcome. Incidentally, school policies for bringing service animals to schools are different from those for pets.

         There actually are some advantages to students bringing a beloved pet to college. Pets can be good companions as students transition to a new environment. And having them can be a conversational ice-breaker in making new friends.

         At the same time, there are disadvantages to bringing a pet to college that students need to be aware of. First of all, caring for them can be demanding. Litter boxes have to be emptied, and fish tanks need to be cleaned. There is also the expense of feeding the animals. And animals like cats and dogs that have the freedom to roam in a dorm room can escape.

         Nevertheless, more and more schools are allowing students to have pets, especially cats and fish. Cal Tech allows students to have two cats, while Wellesley College gives permission for small birds, fish and/or small rodents in dorm rooms. Some schools will only let students have pets in certain dorms.