Do pets actually help students reduce stress?

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Most of us have probably seen students around campus walking their dogs or have heard the neighbor’s cat meowing in the middle of the night.

In fact, some of you might be considering getting a pet of your own while living on campus. There are many benefits of having pets on campus, but if the decision isn’t thoroughly planned, it can lead to conflict.

Sophomore art education major Tayha Ness said getting her puppy, Phoebe, to campus was a drawn-out, three-month process, and even though there are advantages to having a pet, house-training was difficult. Having a dog also led to tensions with her roommate.

Ness’ roommate accused Phoebe of destroying her laptop after the dog spilled hot chocolate on it. Ness paid her $400, narrowly avoiding going to court.

She doesn’t regret getting the puppy, though. College is tough, she said, so it’s nice to be able to look forward to something at the end of a long day.

“I loved knowing that I had something at home that strictly depended on me for love, comfort and survival. It kept me going,” Ness said.

Ness wanted the dog to be smaller in size to accommodate the tight living spaces. She also needed the puppy to be easily potty-trained — which didn’t come quickly.

Brookings Humane Society Shelter Coordinator Andrea Severtson said pets are a good thing to consider having on campus for many reasons.

“They tend to be a great reminder of a ‘home’ atmosphere for the students and they are a great idea for students in a high-stress environment,” she said.

College is the first time many students are away from home and often times it can be overwhelming and difficult to find a balance in a new environment.

Having an animal on campus brings a sense of normality, especially for students who had pets at home, according to Severtson.

However, pets don’t just help their owners, Associate Director of Residential Life Christina Kaberline said.

Often times, the effects of a pet can spread to more than just one student, allowing the entire floor to benefit from the presence of an animal.

It isn’t all fun and games, though.

Pets, especially puppies, are a huge time commitment, Kaberline said. So, students need to evaluate their class schedule and what they do in their personal time to see if a pet adequately fits into the picture.

“We really want to make sure that everyone involved, the student and the pet, has a high quality of life,” Kaberline said.

There are a number of steps students must follow before a pet is allowed in their dorm room.

These include getting the pet the correct vaccinations, registering with the city of Brookings, getting their pet neutered and complying with a 35-pound weight limit.

Severtson said as long as the student can financially care for the animal and make sure it gets exercise, she would recommend a pet on campus.

“Animals need interaction and love, so as long as they are properly cared for we love seeing pets on campus,” she said.

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