Editorial | Pets should be allowed in apartments

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Editorial | Pets should be allowed in apartments

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

Ever pet a dog and feel absolute love? Ever have a cat lay down on your lap and internally realize exactly what your parents meant when they told you were meant for greatness?

The stress of college can often be too much to handle. Common stress relief tactics taught to students throughout their lives include exercise, meditation or some form of introspection. But another overlooked way to find stress relief is through animal interaction, according to students in a ScienceDaily study.

Animals have been proven to reduce the effects of stress on college students. According to a study conducted by the University of Maine in 2015, college students with dogs reported having less anxiety and a better overall mood than students who didn’t have dogs.

It’s clear many students can experience anxiety, high stress and even depression when away at school. New environments and harder course schedules can be difficult to cope with after high school. With midterms and finals, students often find themselves studying for hours, neglecting sleep schedules and skipping meals. College life here can be fun and exciting, but at the same time it’s a competitive environment where students invest a lot of time, effort and money in their education.

One major factor holding students back from adopting an animal is leasing contracts. Most apartment leasing companies do not allow pets, even small pets such as fish, hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs. To accommodate cats and dogs usually requires extensive research while hunting for an apartment.

Apartment complexes should loosen pet requirements, allow responsible and prepared students to adopt animals that can live within their means. Small animals such as rabbits or hamsters require less maintenance, take up less room and are arguably easier to maintain in a college apartment compared to a dog or cat. These alternatives still provide the companionship some students crave, and are debatably easier for leasing companies and apartments to handle.

Lots of students have a lifetime of experience in caring for pets. These students know the responsibilities, monetary commitments and time demands required for animal companionship, and they can teach those around them the stress-relieving qualities an animal can bring.

The University does offer programs where students can interact with therapy dogs during finals seasons. But sometimes this isn’t enough. For many students, finals aren’t the most stressful time. Stress comes with significant others, friendship and family drama — and having an animal companion can help combat this during the times when it feels like students have nobody else. Having a companion around could potentially help improve students’ mental health, which is why apartment complexes and leasing companies should be more accepting of pets.

The Daily Illini Editorial Board would like to disclaim that animals should only be owned by a responsible person who can properly care for them. College students should only own an animal if the environment is conducive to small pets. This editorial does not aim to persuade students to adopt an animal they are not prepared for, as all pets, no matter the size, require responsibility and attention.

College students are young and have a lot on their plates, and it’s completely normal to struggle balancing that plate with demanding workloads. But students who are committed to owning a pet should be able to make their own choices, not have them made by a leasing company.