Should FAMU be a pet friendly campus?

Columnist Vanessa Ferguson and her dog, Vanna. Photo courtesy Ferguson

Even though Florida A&M University allows service animals and emotional-support animals on campus, the university needs a more pet-friendly policy.

Today, an increasing number of universities are becoming pet-friendly because students are increasingly asking for it, and there are so many positive reasons why. FAMU needs to pull out its notepad and pen and take notes from these universities.

A more pet-friendly policy will not only boost mental health, but also physical health. It’s a huge step when it comes to bettering our university and making sure students are enjoying their time here.

The demand for therapy dogs has been increasing recently, according to FAMU Counseling Services officials. The university has yet to implement an animal therapy program even though many students have asked about it and the fact that these programs are popping up at more colleges across the country.Owning a pet in college can reduce stress and anxiety in many students. It did for me and I know many others can say the same.

April marks exactly one year since I got my dog, Vanna. As a junior in college living in an apartment with people I didn’t know, I knew I needed a companion.

I’m acutely aware that HBCUs are different from PWIs. Howard University has gone so far as to ban residents in the nation’s capital from walking their dogs on Howard’s campus.
I can understand why people may have different opinions when it comes to allowing pets on campus. My dog, Vanna, has been on campus many times and the reactions have always been lovely and overall, just great responses from my classmates and others.
While she’s an emotional-support animal for me, her presence alone on campus brings smiles to others who see her on campus.

College is tough and as students we all have those moments where we can become really stressed and unmotivated when it comes to academics. Just seeing a pet on campus can give students that spark that they need.

A 2008 study done by Patricia Pendry and Jaymie Vandagriff revealed that when college students held a dog or cat, their blood pressure immediately decreased. Another study found that college students who did not own pets had a decrease in the level of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone, after interacting with a dog.

FAMU claims to be fully engaged when it comes to mental health and the condition of its students. So why not allow pets on campus? Pets have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Take if from me, I know first-hand.