Students separated from pets find ways to cope

by SGA Beat Writer Jessica Livingston

Pets are some people’s best friends. However, some UNA students have to live without them because of the no-pets rule in residence halls and apartments.

Sophomore Kaitlyn Kennedy said her dog is her life, so living in the residence halls affects her personally.

“I got my dog, Dixie, my freshman year of high school, and ever since we got her, she’s been a positive impact on my entire family of four,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said she presented an informative speech on how well pets benefit humans.

“I read from one source that it’s been proven that pets are better than pills when it comes to emotional health,” Kennedy said.

Junior Anna Beth Franks said she believes having a pet gives college students responsibility as caregivers.

“The first two years I was not allowed to have any animals in the dorms, except for a fish,” Franks said. “I moved out of the dorms and now I live in a house, where I own a pet. Having a pet not only gives my house a positive atmosphere, but it gives me something to look forward to when I get home.”

Franks said pets rely on their owners for everything, so students would benefit from having the responsibility of caring for an animal.

Director of Housing and Residence Life Jennifer Sutton said while no pets, except for fish in up to a five-gallon tank, are allowed in apartments or residence halls, there have been exceptions.

“We have made accommodations for service animals and emotional support animals in the past,” she said.

Sutton said she does not think the rule will change anytime soon because of challenges students can face while residing in a confined living area with a pet.

Resident student organizations and other students have been finding ways to cope with missing their pets while at school.

The university has been allowing several RSOs to host events raising money for the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter and involving animals.

The Student Government Association Freshman Forum hosted a Puppy Pageant Oct. 26, raising $211 for the shelter. Five puppies were adopted at the event.

In 2012, around 47,000 animals were handled at the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter. Out of those, the shelter euthanized 987.

“The animal shelter is a great place to volunteer,” said junior Molly Welch. “You can show animals love and be in a positive, stress-relieving environment.”

The shelter needs volunteers for different areas, including dog walking, kennel assistance, adoption promotion and assistance, general cleaning and temporary foster care.

Visit http://www.florenceal.org/Public_Safety/Animal_Control/Volunteer/index.html to fill out a volunteer form and volunteer during an available time.