Rental Guide: Pitt to keep no-pet policy

By Andrew Shull

It’s not only family and friends to whom Pitt students must bid farewell when heading back to… It’s not only family and friends to whom Pitt students must bid farewell when heading back to school. They also have to say goodbye to their pets.

But at at least 12 colleges and universities across the country, animal lovers get to bring their pets with them, as some schools have changed their pet policies. Pitt, however, is not one of them.

While some University dorms permit fish and service animals, our furry friends are simply not welcome at Pitt for the most part, largely because of allergies and the potential for damage, Pitt spokeswoman Patricia White said.

That hasn’t prevented some colleges from finding success in letting students keep pets on campus;— schools like Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology and Eckerd College in Florida have more lenient pet policies.

Shaun Simon, the Residence Life coordinator at Washington & Jefferson, said that one of the school’s on-campus buildings permits pets, but only one per dorm room.

“The students in the hall made it a community, and the pets being there is part of that community,” Simon said about the program that began in 2005.

Permitted pets include cats, dogs, small birds, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, turtles and fish.

When it comes to dog breeds, students in the pet-friendly dorm are not permitted to own pit bulls, Rottweilers, wolf breeds or any dogs that are a mix of those breeds. Dogs must be at least a year and half old, can’t weigh any more than 40 pounds and must have lived with the students for a year before moving in.

Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., allows students in fraternity and sorority housing to own one pet per house, according to a policy issued by its Residential Services.

The pets all must be approved before coming to campus, be properly tagged and licensed and be up to date on all vaccines. They are also subject to removal for biting anyone on campus. Proper registration is $50 for dogs and cats and $25 for other pets.

At both Lehigh and Washington & Jefferson, students are responsible for cleaning up after their own pets, and their animals can’t be sources of noise or annoyance for surrounding students.

Despite the popularity of on-campus pets, some Pitt students said a change in the pet policy is not likely at Pitt.

Pitt freshman Nathan Donnell said that because of allergies, he wouldn’t be able to live in a pet-friendly dorm.

“If it was one cat hidden in the room next to me, that wouldn’t be bad, but I couldn’t live in a dorm with a lot of pets,” Donnell said.

All of the pet-friendly-housing schools segregate students with pets from the general population for that reason.

Freshman Chase Smethurst said that while he “aspires to have a dog one day,” the financial burden of providing food and veterinary care for an animal while in college would cost him too much.

“I wouldn’t be able to afford a dog. Maybe if I had a steady job, but not right now,” he said.

Pet ownership could be limiting in other ways as well.

Freshman Sarah Deak said that she would not be able to handle a pet either.

Despite owning five dogs in her hometown, she said that her lifestyle at school couldn’t accommodate an animal.

“You couldn’t be out all the time because you would have to be with the animal,” she said. “But it would teach responsibility.”