By Amy Wadas

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As college students start heading home for the summer, some are already looking ahead to the fall. That’s because when they come back, many local students will be bringing their pet with them.

Being away from Ripley was one of the toughest adjustments for Lindsay Black during her freshman year at Clarion University.

“I have to say goodbye to him every time I leave. It’s hard for me,” said Lindsay.

That’s about to change. Next year, the Chicora native will take her cat to college with her.

“I was used to, in high school, having him to come home to, and de-stress and be able to play with him, and then I could do my homework, and then just have him laying on my lap,” said Lindsay.

Lindsay said Ripley will help with more than just stress relief.

“Being able to teach me responsibility, because taking care of my own animal, I wouldn’t have somebody else to fall back on,” said Lindsay.

Jennifer Graham is one of the people behind the idea of allowing students to bring their pets with them to Clarion.

“Last year, while we were getting ready to end the school year, we surveyed our students, asking them what type of living-learning communities they would like to participate in or themed living. Animal-friendly was the most popular,” said Director of Residence Life at Clarion University Jennifer Graham.

The university opened 88 spots in the on-campus complex, Reinhard villages, and 120 students applied.

KDKA’s Amy Wadas: “How do you go through the process and select who gets to live there?”
Jennifer Graham: “We told our students it’s really a first-come, first-serve basis at this point.”

Students have to follow certain rules. Each apartment is limited to two large animals. Pets must weigh 40 pounds or less. That’s for both cats and dogs. They can also have anything caged, like ferrets and rabbits. Students have to show proof their pet is vaccinated, and has lived with them at home, and if a pet makes a lot of noise, they could be removed.

Clarion isn’t the only school adding pet-friendly housing in the fall. Edinboro is doing the same thing and Lockhaven introduced pet-friendly housing at the beginning of the spring semester.

While more colleges are now allowing pets, the concept is not new to students at Washington and Jefferson College. They’ve had a similar program since 2006. Senior Molly Riley lives with her Bordoodle, Lola, in Monroe Hall, which is known as the pet house.

“I think it’s one of the best parts of our campus. Honestly, people who live here are so happy,” said Riley.

Lindsay is ready for that at Clarion.

“I think it will be nice,” said Lindsay.

She thinks Ripley will be too.

“He’s a pretty laid-back cat. He’ll just tell me when he needs stuff,” said Lindsay.