Cuddly critters in the dorm

By LAUREN BARTLETT
Features Editor

Going on walks, listening to music, writing and any type of exercise are common ways to help cope with stress and anxiety. However, there is also a four-legged or scaly little friend that can be helpful, too. 

According to adaa.com, 80 percent of college students experience stress daily, and 13 percent have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or depression. Thirteen percent may not seem like much, but that statistic doesn’t represent others who haven’t been diagnosed.

College students are under tremendous amounts of stress, and often find comfort in their pets, but due to rules and regulations that many colleges have in place regarding dorm pets, students can’t use their pets to help them cope. 

Most colleges and universities don’t allow pets with hair in dorm rooms due to people who may have allergies, safety regulations and to help the rooms stay clean. 

The concern of allowing pets in dorms for mental reasons is sweeping the nation. At schools like the University of Nebraska, many lawsuits have been filed by students claiming that students need their pet with them for emotional reasons. 

Dogs and cats are often used in places like prisons, rehabilitation centers and hospitals to help people cope with their issues. Pets have been scientifically shown to help improve symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression, which is why some colleges are beginning to see the value in allowing their students to keep pets while living in a dorm room. 

Students who need therapeutic animals are becoming more and more common on college campuses all over the United States. 

According to nytimes.com, St. Mary’s College of Maryland has recently started allowing pets in dorms. Two students from that college both have anxiety issues, and they have pets to help calm down when an anxiety attack begins. However, St. Mary’s outlined certain rules about where the pet sleeps and certain areas where the pets aren’t allowed in the dorm. They even have a separate washing machine that they use to make sure other students aren’t affected by any allergies.

Senior mass communications major Ethan Amason has a pet California king snake in his room. 

“I have a pet snake in my dorm on campus, and I just bought it this semester,” Amason said. “I like having him around because I love nature, and I’m glad we have the ability to have pets like snakes. I have the chance to play with him, and take a break when I need to.”

Even though Amason doesn’t have a diagnosed problem, he finds comfort and fun with his pet snake. 

The demand for emotional and therapeutic pets is becoming higher and higher. Many colleges and universities around the United States are being forced to deal with this new issue and find a compromise that works for both students’ needs and college regulations. 

Last year, Piedmont began allowing pets with fur or feathers if a students has a written prescription from a psychiatrist stating that a pet may help the student’s mental well being. 

The question is, will this demand grow on Piedmont’s campus? 

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