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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Claws And Effect

Virginia+Cook+%E2%80%9821+and+her+dog%2C+Kit%2C+pose+for+the+first+day+of+school+in+September.
Virginia Cook ‘21 and her dog, Kit, pose for the first day of school in September.

Why students are choosing to keep pets at school in face of the pandemic

The fall 2020 semester brought with it a unique set of stressors for Wofford students. With more time spent indoors and away from others, many students got pets to live with them in dorms and apartments. 

Students with pets on campus say that animals are calming and make their living space more home-like.

Virginia Cook ‘21, who has a dog on campus, said that “Sometimes I am convinced that Kit has more friends than me on campus because everybody wants to meet her, pet her, play with her or take her on walks. I joke around with some of my friends that they are only friends with me because I have a dog.”

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Cook’s dog, Kit, is a registered Emotional Support Animal (ESA) and is permitted to live on campus. However, many students are bringing pets into student housing without the school’s knowledge or permission.

The process for registering a pet as an ESA is a difficult one. Although Cook had her dog registered at another institution before attending Wofford, she said that the Wellness Center was reluctant to allow Cook to keep Kit on campus.

“The documentation required is very strenuous to gather and had to be perfect, but that was surprisingly the easiest part,” said Cook “The biggest obstacle we faced was with the Wellness Center staff themselves. They challenged my physicians and undermined their documentation,” she continued.

Cook said the Wellness Center finally approved Kit after many phone calls and forms, and she added that the staff of both the Wellness Center and Student life have supported her and Kit through their remaining years on campus.

Many students who keep unregistered pets on campus find that it’s fairly easy to do so without administration finding out. To them, the pros outweigh the cons.

One student with an unregistered pet, who chose to remain anonymous, said “Personally I’ve loved having a pet on campus because he’s just so cute and he helps keep my time in my dorm interesting. Plus, having a pet to care for during COVID has given me a sense of responsibility and affection for such a small animal!”

Another anonymous student said that their unregistered pet has helped with anxiety. They said, “I have found having a pet on campus has reinforced the responsibility, care, and maturity that Wofford has been aiming to teach their students,” while acknowledging that Wofford’s policy against on-campus pets is “reasonably strict.”

Wofford’s policy for pets on campus, located on page 101 of the 2019-2020 Student Handbook, states that “The only pets that are allowed in the residence halls are common aquarium fish in tanks smaller than 10 gallons. All other pets or animals are prohibited for health and humane purposes.”

Any student who is found to have a pet on campus will be fined $250.

The Student Handbook does allow for students to request an ESA through forms found under the Accessibility page on the Wofford website. This is in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Cook and her dog, Kit, are beginning their final semester at Wofford. She said, “I think Kit has made many people’s college experience unique and special. Every year has been such a positive experience for Kit and me.”

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