Bringing a Pet to College: Rules, Tips, and Where to Go

Whether you have a service animal that you need to bring with you to class or just are planning on bringing your beloved pet to college with you and don’t want to leave them inside of your dorm all day, you need to know whether or not you can bring your pet onto your college campus. What are the rules that you need to know before you bring your pet onto a college campus?

To bring a pet onto a college campus, make sure the campus is pet friendly. Many college campuses are not pet-friendly, and others have dedicated pet areas. Never let the pet off-leash, and always clean up after them. If the pet causes damage, notify the college immediately.

More information about the rules you may encounter when bringing your pet to college with you is included below, as well as a list of pet-friendly colleges.

Rules for Bringing a Pet to College

If you bring a pet to college, you need to follow the pet-related rules of the campus, even if your pet is a service animal. Luckily, the pet-related rules on college campuses are typically easy to follow. Just make sure your dog doesn’t bite people, bark at people or other animals, go to the bathroom indoors, and make sure you pick up after your dog.

If you bring your pet onto your college campus, make sure you pick up after them. If someone steps in your dog’s poop or the university discovers that your dog has peed indoors, you will likely have to pay a fine. You may get one verbal warning, but after that, you will be expected to pay for all damages. If it happens repeatedly, you may not be allowed to bring your pet onto campus anymore. (Source)

If you bring a cat or dog onto your college campus, they have to be on tick and flea medication. It is up to you what medication or application method to use, but their flea and tick medication has to be up to date before you bring your cat or dog onto campus.

When you bring your dog onto your college’s campus, you are in charge of them and what they do, not the college. You can’t leave them with any faculty members and you shouldn’t leave them with any friends or family members.

If the pet that you brought onto your college campus bites someone or another animal, you have to report it to your college’s Office of Public Safety. Your college’s public safety office may not have the same title, but you need to report the incident to the correct office.

You likely won’t be able to bring your pet onto campus until you can prove they won’t do it again. You may not even get a second chance, depending on the college’s policies and decisions regarding the situation. (Source)

Are Pets Allowed On College Campuses?

Typically, pets are not allowed on college campuses unless they are registered service animals. Colleges don’t allow animals on campus because they think they will distract other students, trigger allergies, or because some people are afraid of certain animals.

However, some college campuses are pet-friendly, so you can bring your pets to campus. Before you are allowed to bring your service onto campus, you have to tell the school that you will be bringing them.

Service animals are always allowed on campus because of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but your service dog has to follow the rules. Luckily, the rules are easy to follow because your service dog is trained to follow these rules. All you have to do is makes sure your dog doesn’t go to the bathroom indoors, doesn’t bark or react to other people or animals, and stays out of the way while class is being held. (Source)

If you will have your service animal with you while attending class, it is always a good idea to tell your professors before the first day of class, just in case they are allergic to your pet. If you feel the need to tell them why you need your service animal with you, you can disclose that information to your professors. However, you are not legally required to do so, and they are not allowed to ask. (Source)

However, if your pet has aggressive tendencies or if your dog’s breed has aggressive tendencies, they will not be allowed on campus, even if they are a service animal. Luckily, service dogs and other animals rarely have aggressive tendencies, so you won’t have to worry about not being allowed to bring them with you to your college classes.

If you bring an animal that isn’t trained as a service animal, make sure your college allows pets. Many colleges don’t allow pets on campus so they can ensure people with allergies or fears don’t have a negative reaction or experience.

Most college campuses that do allow pets have designated pet-friendly areas that they can’t really venture out of. If your pet does venture away, make sure your pet doesn’t go to the bathroom indoors, bark or bite other people or animals, or walk far away from you. (Source)

Pets that are poisonous likely won’t be allowed on campus at all.

Are Pets Allowed in On-Campus Housing?

Pets are not allowed in on-campus housing unless they are service animals. However, if your college campus is pet-friendly you may be able to bring your pet with you to on-campus housing, even if they aren’t a service animal or ESA.

Are Pets Allowed in Off-Campus Housing?

Pets are allowed in off-campus as long as it is an ESA or service animal. You will have to make sure the housing complex allows pets beforehand, and you will have to register it with management before you move in. It is often easier to get pets approved to live with you in off-campus housing facilities. However, you will likely have to pay a pet deposit. If your pet has an accident indoors, you will have to pay for any and all damages.

Your roommates will have to be okay with living with a pet, but the housing complex will make sure they are before you move in or are assigned an apartment or room. Sometimes, you won’t be allowed to bring your pet with you to college unless they have been spayed or neutered, so keep that in mind before you decide to bring your beloved pet with you. (Source)

All housing complexes and college campuses require your pet to have all of their vaccinations up to date before you bring them onto campus or into an apartment. If your pet requires a tank, the size of the said tank may be limited because of the amount of free space in the apartment or housing facility.

If your pet is poisonous, you likely won’t be able to have them in on or off-campus housing, as they pose a threat to the other residents.

What You Need to Do to Bring Your Pet onto Campus

To be able to bring your pet onto campus, you need to make sure that they allow the animal that you have onto campus. Because so many college campuses are not pet friendly, you may only be able to bring your service animal onto campus. You will need to let the college know that you will be bringing your service animal onto campus. You will most likely have to notify the Disability Services office.

However, you likely won’t be able to bring your Comfort Animal, otherwise known as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), onto campus because they don’t go through extensive training as service animals do.

What You Need to Do to Register a Pet as an ESA

To register your pet as an ESA, you will need to see your doctor or a local therapist. Your therapist or doctor will give you a letter that says that you need an ESA. Once you tell your apartment complex that you will be getting an ESA, you will need to fill out the forms that they give you.

After you get your ESA, you will need to go to the police station and register your animal. They will ask you what your ESA looks like, if they have a microchip, what their number is, and more. You will have to pay between $10-$20, but afterward you will get a tag to put on your ESA’s collar in case they get lost.

Keep in mind that most online sites that allow you to register your pet as an ESA are scams (even .org and .net sites).

Pets Normally Allowed On College Campuses

Normally, dogs are the only large animals that are allowed on campus. Cats and fish are often allowed in dorm rooms and off-campus apartments. Some colleges and apartment complexes even allow birds, guinea pigs, and various non-venomous reptiles. (Source)

Most Pet-Friendly College Campuses

All of the following colleges allow certain pets to be on campus or in on-campus apartments and dorms. However, most of them only allow fish. Some of them allow people to have dogs or cats in the living space with them.

  • Arizona State University
  • Auburn University
  • Avila University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Clarion University of Pennsylvania
  • Clemson University
  • Converse College
  • Duke University
  • Eckerd College
  • Louisiana State University — Baton Rouge
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Ohio University — Lancaster Campus
  • Stephens College
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Colorado, Boulder
  • University of Florida
  • University of Hartford: Fish only
  • The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • University of Iowa: Fish only
  • The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Oklahoma
  • University of South Carolina — Columbia
  • University of Washington, Seattle
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • University of Idaho
  • Vanderbilt University: Fish only
  • Washington & Jefferson College
  • Washington State University
  • Wellesley College
  • Reed College
  • Principia College
  • Lees-McRae College
  • High Point University
  • Johnson and Wales University
  • Delaware Valley University
  • Sweet Briar College

Colleges like the Clarion University of Pennsylvania, University of Florida, Eckerd College, and Stephens College, allow cats, dogs, ferrets, birds, small rodents, and non-venomous snakes that are not over 6 feet long. However, every college and university has different pet policies, so check them before you bring your pet to college.

Tips for Ensuring Your Service Animal Can Be On Campus

If your college allows you to bring pets with you onto campus and you want to be able to bring them for the entirety of your college career, you need to do a few things. Listed below are a few tips that will ensure that you will be able to continue bringing your pet onto campus unless the college’s pet-friendly policies change.

  • Clean up after your pet
  • Regularly bring your pet to pet-friendly on-campus areas
  • Make sure they don’t go to the bathroom indoors
  • Talk to professors beforehand when taking pets to class
  • Make sure they aren’t reactive to people or other animals
  • Make sure they stay close to you and are not in the way of other people when in common areas
  • Make sure they don’t bite or harm other people or animals

When you have your pet inside of your apartment or dorm, make sure they don’t bark or make noise excessively. For example, dogs often bark when people pass by where they live and keep going until they walk away. This behavior isn’t okay when living in an apartment or dorm because other people live extremely close by, and the barking will bother them.

Train your dog to not bark when people walk by. It is okay if they go to the door or window to watch them, but it isn’t okay for them to bark excessively.

Overall, you likely won’t be able to bring your pet onto your college campus unless it is a service animal. However, you will be able to have them in your dorm or apartment if they are a service animal or ESA.

If you want to be able to bring your pet onto your college campus, check various college or university pet policies before you decide what college you will go to. Look at the policies of the schools that you are interested in attending or have already been accepted to.