COLUMBUS (NBC News) — Heading off to college for the first time and leaving the comforts of home can be a difficult transition. And for students leaving an animal companion behind, the move can feel even more difficult.
While most schools have a strict no pet policy for campus housing, some offer special accommodations for students to help ease the process.
From lizards to horses, each school has a different pet policy, including restrictions on age, weight, cage, and sometimes, whether or not the animal was a family pet before entering college.
While service animals on campus were once used only exclusively as guide dogs for students with visual impairments, today schools are grappling with a rise of “emotional support animals.”
As diagnoses of anxiety, depression and other mental health problems among college students reaches record highs, according the Center of Collegiate Mental Health, so has the prescription of these pets, also known as comfort animals, for their soothing abilities.
Whether or not a school agrees that these animals are therapeutic is besides the point; imposing an alright animal ban for all students could violate federal law prohibiting discrimination in housing.
So which college is most pet-friendly? According to Animal Planet, Eckerd college. Residents may choose from 14 residence halls that permit dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, chinchillas and ferrets. In addition, small pets in cages are permitted in all residence halls. Students also have access to a local veterinarian who does pet health checks twice a year.
Best of all, outgoing pets at Eckerd are honored at a separate graduation ceremony.