Pets on campus brings benefits, responsibilities


The stress of school, work, extracurriculars and simply being away from home can be overwhelming for students. To combat this, students and professors have recruited cute companions. 

The prevalence of pets on campus continues to grow at pet-friendly halls, such as Hansen Residence Hall and North and South Meadows Apartments. 

Danie Rang, a junior agricultural communications and political science double major and resident at Hansen Hall, owns two chinchillas which help her de-stress. 

Rang said she struggled with anxiety and stress because of extensive school work and having three jobs. 

“I started watching videos of them [chinchillas],” she said. “They were impossible to watch without giggling.”

Rang said her “two little girls,” Patrice and Lily, help her relieve stress, keep her happy and bring together the other residents of her floor. 

“People are always coming in to see them,” she said. 

However, Patrice and Lily are not the only new campus residents getting attention. 

Newly hired advertising professor, Jessica Freeman, has a furry friend that has become her “mascot to students.” 

Norton, a 5-year-old Maltese, Lhasa apso and poodle mix, has caused a stir in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. 

“I put him in my Power Points, and I’ve even gotten student evaluations that have requested, ‘more Norton, please,’” Freeman said. 

Freeman also explained how much Norton has helped with her transition to a new community. 

“He brings me a lot of joy,” she said. “Having him has helped make the transition easier.” 

Like Freeman, Taylor Gilmore, a sophomore majoring in animal science and dairy production, is new to South Dakota. 

Originally from Pennsylvania, she explained how having her three horses with her has really helped her with homesickness. 

“It gives me a sense of routine,” Gilmore said. “I’m so used to it since I did it at home, too, so it definitely helps.” 

Because she is a part of the SDSU Rodeo Team, she is able to board her horses just outside campus, giving her the ability to be with them at least twice a day for feeding, grooming, exercise and cleanup. 

Gilmore explained how having her horses, though very rewarding, calls for a lot of time and effort, and Freeman agrees. 

“It’s a big responsibility and takes time,” Freeman said. “Some animals take longer to train and some can have health needs that aren’t anticipated.”

Students can volunteer at the Brookings Humane Society to get an “animal fix without the commitment to a pet,” Rang said.

For those who are still contemplating adopting a pet, Freeman said to keep the pet’s best interest in mind. 

“An animal deserves a companion who can give it love, attention and proper care,” she said. “But, if you can do it, pets give so much more in return.”