Students Discuss Difficulties of Owning a Pet

Category:  News
Thursday, March 31st, 2016 at 10:27 AM
Students Discuss Difficulties of Owning a Pet by Dakota Palmer
Students understand the difficulties of having a pet on the Edinboro University campus, but miss their own when on campus.

Edinboro University, like most American colleges, do not allow students living in residence halls to have pets such as dogs and cats. Students are allowed to have fish, but most often, fish are not fun to cuddle with after a long day.

According to researchers at Ohio State University, 25 percent of students surveyed reported their pets helped them get through a hard time in their lives.

Sara Staats, professor emeritus and adviser of the study, said, “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.”

She continued, “College is a very stressful environment for them and sometimes they can feel isolated or overwhelmed with the change.”

Junior Brianna Giusti has a 3-year-old yorkie named Milo.

“Being away from my dog negatively affects me in many ways. I moved out to Edinboro to have an apartment by myself.”

“I missed my family and my dog every day,” she said. “It’s very hard to go from being with him every day to not seeing him for weeks in between.”

“If my dog was here, I would be in a better mood, which would more than likely affect my academics in a positive way.”

Freshman Emily Dinsmore lives about eight hours from her home and only goes back for breaks. She has a guinea pig named Winston and an old English mastiff named Bailey. Although she misses her pets, Dinsmore does not believe living away from them affects her academically.

“I miss getting to pet and love on my dog when I had a bad day,” she said. “I’m sure it would help [having my dog at school]. But, she is very big and would hate to be in a dorm all day. My comfort is not worth her suffering.”

Dinsmore added, “It would be great to have physical contact, but that is why I go see the therapy dogs at the academic success center occasionally.”

“Many students said that their pets fulfill a significant role that is missing in their lives,” Staats said in the study. “The pets are not a substitute for human social interaction and support, but they do provide important interaction for these kids who might otherwise feel isolated from their environment.”

Junior Kendra Turner had a similar experience to Giusti. She said, “When I moved to Edinboro, I left my 3-year-old golden retriever at home. I only live about 30 minutes away, but I was always upset about leaving to come back up to school; my dogs are my babies.”

However, Turner ended up buying another golden retriever puppy last May when she moved off campus to keep her company while she is at school.

“Having a dog in college is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If I’m stressed, I cuddle my pup or take him on a long walk. When asked to go out on the weekends, sometimes I’d rather stay and be with my dog,” she said.

Graduate assistant Sydney Mace has three cats: Lena, Gracie and “Lucius von Snugglepants.” All three of them “definitely help me with my stress levels and [help me] cope with depression.”

“When I have to work on homework, they always come lay with me, which helps me get work done because they keep me company and I’m less likely to leave because I’m bored,” Mace said.

“It also really helped me last year when I lived alone for the first time without roommates.”

Finally, junior Grace Lehrian shared that she currently lives off-campus with her cat Precious.

“I think that living with a pet has brought me a lot of relief in regards to scholastic stress,” Lehrian said.

“My overall mood is chipper and I find myself more motivated to get up in the morning because I have to take care of something other than myself.”

There are some colleges throughout the United States that allow students to have pets: Case Western Reserve University allows small, caged animals; Lehigh University allows students to have 10 gallon fish tanks; Massachusetts Institute of Technology has four catfriendly residence halls; and Washington and Jefferson College allows cats, small birds, hamsters, turtles, fish, gerbils, guinea pigs, and dogs under 40 pounds to live in Monroe Hall. Some colleges will also allow fraternity or sorority houses to have a cat or dog as a mascot.

Dakota Palmer is the Online Editor for The Spectator.

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