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Unapproved pets lead to housing fines

Housing’s current policy restricts certain pets from residence halls and The Village

Furry little friends are not welcome in University Housing, but this does not deter some students from bringing them to live in the residence halls or The Village apartments.

At Georgia College, students are required to live in the residence halls or in The Village for their first year, and there is a strict no-pet policy that forces students to leave their pets, besides fish, at home.

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A student transports her pet cat into her room in a residence hall. Pets, other than fish that can be housed in a 10-gallon tank or smaller, are not allowed in University Housing. If found, there is a $100 penalty per occurrence.

Though this policy is enforced, some students still try to house pets in University Housing.

In the 2009-10 academic year, there were less than a dozen incidences of pets in the residence halls according to Cindy McClanahan, interim associate director of student development and marketing coordinator for University Housing.

“The most common pets are going to be cats followed by dogs and beyond that we’ll get the occasional hamster or gerbil kind of animal,” McClanahan said.

Cats are the animals discovered with the most frequency, according to McClanahan. This is because cats are drawn to windows and University Housing staff is more likely to see them.

“When you look at the residence halls, and you see a cat sitting in the window that is something we have to address,” McClanahan said.

Dogs will normally bark or make some other noise to alert staff members to their presence.

The reasons students give for having pets in the halls are varied and stretch from receiving the pet as a gift to having the pet because it could no longer be housed in an off-campus apartment. Some students also try to house pets long term.

“I think we should be able to have more than just a fish in our residence halls,” said sophomore music education major Collins Fielder. “Maybe a turtle or a hamster or another kind of animal that is not dangerous to us.”

The fee for housing a pet in the residence hall is $100 per occurrence. This fee is placed on the students account and will block registration in the future if it is not paid.

University Housing has several reasons for not allowing pets in the residence halls.

“When you have a community living situation, where you have so many people living in such close proximity pets become problematic,” McClanahan said. “One of the key concerns is the problem of allergens. With people who are strongly allergic to animal dander, you can’t contain that (animal dander) to one living unit with the way residence halls and apartments are structured. In addition, a residence hall room is turned over annually and everyone wants to live in a nice, wonderful, clean apartment and unfortunately pets don’t always follow the cleanliness guidelines.”

Students share some of the same concerns.

“I am allergic to cats, so I can’t breathe around them,” said freshman mass communication major Lauren Clayton. “I think they are cute and all, but it wouldn’t be good.”

Pets are also not allowed in residence halls because they cause damage and housing fees would have to increase to pay for them.

Only pets that are 100 percent aquatic and can be housed in a 10-gallon tank or smaller can be housed in University Housing with the exception of service dogs that have been documented with the Department of Disability Services.

Instead of having pets on campus, students are encouraged to volunteer with on-campus organizations like the Animal Rescue Foundation. ARF would allow students to have contact with animals without having to bring them into the residence halls and worry about being charged the $100 fee.

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