Pet-friendly colleges

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Mark Kantrowitz

By Mark Kantrowitz

June 18, 2018

More than three dozen colleges allow dogs and cats on their campuses, even if they are not a service animal or emotional support animal. Other colleges limit students to fish, amphibians, lizards and small caged animals.

Service dogs and emotional support animals

There are two federal laws that specify whether colleges must allow service animals and/or emotional support animals on campus.

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires colleges to allow service animals on campus and in the dormitories.
  • The Fair Housing Act (FHA) requires colleges to allow service animals and emotional support animals in campus housing.

These laws apply to both public and private colleges and universities.

Americans with disabilities act requirements

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), colleges are required to allow service animals on campus and in the dormitories. Service animals include dogs and miniature horses that have been trained to provide services related to a person’s disability. Emotional support animals are not considered to be service animals.

If the services provided by the service animal are not obvious, the college may ask whether the animal is a service animal and what services the service animal has been trained to perform. The college may not ask about the nature of the disability, ask for a demonstration, or ask for documentation of the disability.

Colleges may not require service animals to be registered with the college or a person to pay a fee for bringing a service animal on campus.

Colleges may ask for the service animal to be removed if the service animal is not housebroken or if the service animal is out of control. The request for removal must be based on the animal’s actual conduct, not speculation concerning the animal’s potential conduct or past conduct of other animals.

Fair housing act requirements

Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), colleges are required to allow service animals and assistance animals, including emotional support animals, in campus housing.

Emotional support animals are animals whose presence alleviates a person’s symptoms or disability. Unlike a service animal, an emotional support animal does not need to be trained to perform a specific task or service. For example, an emotional support animal may help with anxiety attacks.

Unlike the ADA, the Fair Housing Act does not limit the breed of service animals and assistance animals. Cats are allowed as assistance animals in addition to dogs and miniature horses.

If the resident’s disability is not apparent, the college may ask for documentation of the disability, such as a letter from a medical professional or social worker. However, the ADA prohibits this practice in connection with service animals, so this applies only to assistance animals that are not service animals.

Colleges may not require a resident to pay a pet deposit for a service animal or assistance animal.

Pet policies

Most colleges allow fish. Some colleges allow amphibians, reptiles and small caged pets, such as hamsters and chinchillas. Most do not allow cats and dogs.

Colleges may set their own rules with regard to pets that are not service animals or assistance animals. Some of the more common rules include:

  • The pet owner may be required to register the pet with the housing office.
  • The pet owner may be required to pay a pet deposit.
  • The pet owner may be required to get permission from roommates or other residents.
  • Some colleges limit pets to residents who live in a single room without roommates.
  • The college may require the pet to be housebroken.
  • The college may require that dogs and cats be spayed or neutered.
  • The college may require the pet be up-to-date on its vaccinations.
  • Certain aggressive or territorial dog breeds may be prohibited.
  • Carnivorous fish may be prohibited.
  • Pets that are poisonous, such as venomous snakes, may be prohibited.
  • The size of the pet’s tank or cage may be limited.

Even if a college doesn’t allow pets, some students will rent an apartment off campus so they can bring their dog or cat with them to college.

Colleges that allow dogs and cats

This table provides a list of colleges that allow dogs and cats, and was compiled by reviewing the pet policies of more than 1,000 colleges and universities. Each college’s name is linked to its pet policy. The colleges include both public and private colleges, including Ivy League colleges and other selective institutions.



Alfred, NY

Wilmore, KY

Clarksville, TN

Mount Berry, GA

Pasadena, CA

Cleveland, OH

Orange, CA

St. Petersburg, FL

Cambridge, MA

Ames, IA

Providence, RI

Manhattan, KS

Banner Elk, NC

Bethlehem, PA

Harrogate, TN

Batesville, AR

Baltimore, MD

Cambridge, MA

Bethlehem, PA

Misenheimer, NC

Portland, OR

Houston, TX

Brookings, SD

Stanford, CA

Canton, NY

Potsdam, NY

Columbia, MO

DeLand, FL

Moscow, ID

Champaign, IL

Reno, NV

Charlotte, NC

Greely, CO

San Antonio, TX

Seattle, WA

University of West Florida

Pensacola, FL

Laramie, WY

Washington, PA

West Liberty, WV

Wilson College

Chambersburg, PA

Florida Atlantic University  (Boca Raton, FL) ran an April Fools Joke about being pet friendly. 

Some of these colleges bring puppies and kittens on campus during finals week, to help alleviate stress and anxiety. For example, the MIT Puppy Lab brings puppies on campus in April and May. The Pet Away Worry and Stress (PAWS) program at the University of Minnesota brings cats, dogs and other therapy animals to campus.


A good place to start:

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