I could count on one hand the total number of times I’ve been to my best friend’s house over the course of our decade-long friendship. Her dad asked me a few weeks ago why she owns a key to my house, but I still need to siri directions to theirs, and I had to think up a quick excuse so that I didn’t offend him with the truth: I’m afraid of their three great danes.
It’s undeniable that dogs are among the most popular pets in the U.S. The American Pet Products Association estimated that over 90 million canines were kept as pets in the year 2019. Many dog parents choose to use the word “family” instead of “pet,” and are nearly as protective of their fur-babies as they are of their children. However, the fact remains that while pet owners have had months or even years to build a trusting relationship with their animal, the general public has had no such chance.
According to Dogsbite.org, about a thousand U.S. citizens require medical attention for serious dog-bite injuries each day. Even dogs that would normally show no aggression can react poorly when startled, or when they feel threatened. The U.S. National Library of Medicine claims that about 20 percent of the world’s population suffer from dog allergies, and that dog-related allergens can worsen pre-existing conditions such as asthma.
Piedmont College has taken these things into account in its campus pet policy, which states, “No pets will be allowed inside the residence halls with feathers or fur due to allergens and maintenance concerns; this includes visiting pets.” Students are of course permitted to have service dogs or emotional support animals if they have gone through the proper channels with the residential life faculty. For the most part, students seem to follow these guidelines.
Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said of the faculty and staff. On multiple occasions, Piedmont students have seen professors and administration bring their dogs into campus buildings, both on and off leash. While this may not matter to many of Piedmont’s students, for those who do have dog-related phobias or allergies being exposed to these canines on their way to class can be impactful to their learning and health.
The seemingly pet-friendly environment inside the campus buildings contradicts the rules set for students within the residence halls, where the presence of furry-friends would arguably be more appropriate. In a controlled environment, such as a dorm room, it is hard to deny the positive effects dogs can have on some students’ mental health. Helpguide.org found that pets can reduce blood-pressure and help with depression.
It’s hypocritical that the Piedmont pet policy does not extend to faculty. Student’s allergies or phobias don’t disappear once they enter an academic building. The current pet policy should be enforced across all campus buildings for both students and faculty.