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Campus Critters - The welcome mat is out at pet-friendly schools

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Campus Critters - The welcome mat is out at pet-friendly schools

From the MCG 2012 Sophomore edition

FOR MANY STUDENTS, LEAVING the comforts of home and moving to college can be a difficult transition. But at some schools, students can bring a piece of home along to ease the process. Many students who are beginning college have no established friendships and the prospect of meeting new people can be nerve- wracking. However, with a pet by your side you have a ready-made topic of conversation.

My College Guide highlights some pet- and critter-friendly colleges for you. Check out more on pet-friendly colleges at mycollegeguide.org/blog. Just type in "pet friendly."

Clemson University, the University of California, Berkeley, Vanderbilt University and Auburn University are just a handful of many fish-friendly campuses. And while most students use common sense as to what "pet fish allowed" means, there are always a few boundary-pushers that require even the simplest policy to be spelled out in great detail. Notre Dame University’s policy allows fish in up to 30-gallon tanks . . . "with the exception of piranha."

The students might be happy but the fish aren’t at colleges that allow their natural predators, like snakes, lizards and turtles into the dorm. Humboldt State University welcomes all three, while the University of Florida adds, "small birds, salamanders, geckos, certified non-poisonous frogs" and caps its lizards at six inches. Sorry iguanas, there’s no room at the inn.

Caged animals can require a bit more maintenance than say, a goldfish, but for many college kids, it’s worth the effort. Middlebury College allows hamsters, rabbits, gerbils and guinea pigs, but snakes and ferrets are a no-no. Perhaps Eckerd College is a better choice for the snake-lover. The school welcomes slithery sidekicks as long as they’re non-venomous and less than six feet long.

For those who prefer fur to scales, look no further than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (cats), the University of Washington (cats and dogs) or Washington and Jefferson College’s Monroe Hall, which is known as "The Pet House" (cats and dogs). At the Pet House, pets must have been owned by the student (or student’s family) for more than one year, to avoid impulse purchases that lead to abandonment of pets.

At Sweet Briar College, (a woman’s college), students may bring their own horses if the student can "demonstrate adequate riding ability" and if the horse is "suitable for the hunter/jumper-oriented program." Since Sweet Briar owns the stable, riders don’t have to compete with nonstudents to use the facility.

Perhaps the most pet-friendly school of all is Stephens College. Complete with doggie daycare and unlimited weight restrictions for dogs, this rarity of a campus offers an all-pet dorm called Searcy Hall. Nicknamed "Pet Central," this coveted 40-student facility has even been featured on "The Today Show." But even Pet Central has its boundaries. Dogs must be at least one year old and the doors are closed to certain breeds —Chow, Akita, German Shepherd, Pit Bull and Rottweiler—for insurance liability.

To learn more about college life visit mycollegeguide.org and type in "dorms."

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