Barking mad or does pet ownership benefit college students?

By Staff Writer
February 4, 2019

When students are embarking on the college search, they have certain criteria that are unique to them, in which the school must meet in the eyes of the student. Among filters, such as the distance and the financial responsibility of a college, universities that have a pet acceptance policy are starting to become some of the most desired campuses.

Benefits of having a pet

Our pets change the biochemistry of our brains. Meg Olmert has spent 20 years of her life dedicated to the biology behind this research and behind the human-animal bond. In her book “Made for Each Other,” Olmert talks about one specific neuropeptide; oxytocin. This is a chemical in the brain that is known to promote maternal care.

“This is science that supports a truth the heart has always known,” Olmert said.

When oxytocin is present, physiological changes take place such as a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure. Additionally, oxytocin can stop stress hormones from being produced.

A study conducted by the University of Missouri suggests that oxytocin is not the only neurotransmitter that is ignited by our pets. Based off of the findings of South African researchers, the University of Missouri documented that petting dogs cause spikes in the human body’s serotonin. This is a neurotransmitter that most antidepressants attempt to elevate. Dr. Rebecca Johnson is the lead author in the University of Missouri study.

“By showing how interacting with pets actually works, we can help animal-assisted therapy become a medically accepted intervention,” Johnson said.

Cabrini student, Hope Daluisio and her wellness companion at Cabrini Day. Photo submitted by Hope Daluisio.

The difference between a pet and an emotional support animal (ESA)

According to the United States Service Animal Association, an emotional support animal provides comfort to their human counterpart. There have been hundreds of thousands of cases where people who are experiencing depression, grief, anxiety have felt their symptoms lessened with the presence of these animals. However, these animals are not trained to consistently work a certain job and are not qualified service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In many cases, emotional support animals are able to reside in apartment housing that does not allow pets and enables the emotional support animal to fly on domestic flights that usually do not allow pets or have size restrictions. It is important to note that state and local government laws vary.

Would Cabrini University ever have pets living on campus?

Dr. Christine Lysionek is the current vice president of student life at Cabrini University.

“As a pet owner and animal lover myself, I can understand why students would like to have their pets on-campus,” Lysionek said. “Unfortunately, having pets in the residence halls is difficult given that many students suffer from allergies.”

Lysionek went on to explain that if pets are left unattended in rooms, they can become a disturbance for other residents. Additionally, pet hygiene issues can create an undesirable living condition for other roommates. Lysionek made it very clear that Cabrini University offers provisions for students who require emotional support animals.

In Cabrini’s emotional support animal policy, it states that the animal only has access to the person’s living space, unless the animal is also a certified service animal. Only registered and certified service animals are permitted everywhere on campus. To view the full list, click here.

What are universities that allow student pets on campus in our area

Delaware Valley University-Doylestown, PA

In act August 2015, students are allowed to have up to two animals of the same species in their dorms. This includes small rodents, snakes, amphibians and cats. The pet fee is free of charge.

Lock Haven University- Lock Haven, PA

Lock Haven University is opening its first pet-friendly residence this spring semester. A limit of one dog, cat or small caged animal is permitted to stay in student dorms. These pet-friendly dorms are the first Pennsylvania state-run university to do so.

Staff Writer

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