Moving away from home and adjusting to college life can be tough enough without the added emotional effects of leaving a pet behind. The idea of bringing a furry friend to stay in a dorm or student-affiliated apartment can make this adjustment easier to handle, but many students are realizing that having that pet can be troublesome.
Student-affiliated housing complexes near campus have strict pet policies that are agreed to by students upon signing their lease. In an attempt by complex managers to keep maintenance work under control, cats and dogs are not allowed. The policy students are given clearly discusses the regulations regarding roaming pets but in many cases, it does not elaborate on animals that are kept in a cage such as rabbits, hamsters or hedgehogs.
Latasha White, a senior studying psychology living in Tuscany Villas in Winter Park, owns a chinchilla and a dog. She is moving to The Village at Science Drive in August. White was told when she toured the apartments that management didn’t care about pets and that other residents had them, but when she signed the lease she was told that she’d have to get rid of them in order to live there.
White, who plans to send her dog back home to live with her parents in Tampa, still isn’t sure what she will do with her pet chinchilla.
“I knew about the pet policy regarding dogs but I didn’t know about the chinchilla,” White said. “Being unexpectedly forced to get rid of my chinchilla has affected me emotionally.”
For other students and complexes, the policy is clear, but the level of enforcement changes things.
Corey Sickel, a UCF senior studying communication sciences and disorders, has lived in The Edge and owned a cat, Craig, for nearly a year and a half. For a while, maintenance would come in and tell her, “Aww, you have such a cute cat,” and didn’t seem to care that Craig was around.
The Edge has a policy in place that states: “Sorry, no pets allowed.” Although before this year the complex didn’t allow pets, it never had an enforcement plan in place, Sickel said. In August, prior to students moving in, management required that maintenance workers report any pets seen during a visit to an apartment so that they could charge the residents and request the pets be removed from the premises.
This change in enforcement was acknowledged when Sickel received a letter on her door asking her to remove the pet from the premises or risk being charged a $250 fine. “This is your first, and final warning,” read the notes received by students owning pets explaining to them that the animal needs to be removed.
Once she received the notice, Sickel immediately took her cat to live with her parents in South Florida, although Sickel will be living with Craig again once she moves into a house in August.
There are many people living in The Edge with pets and a lot of them have doctors’ notes that allow them to keep their pet or pets, said Kevin Padula, a junior studying digital media. Padula has a doctor’s note that allows him to keep his pet dog even though there is a no-pets policy. These doctors’ notes usually state that the resident needs the animal due to emotional distress, although some may be different.
“I don’t understand the difference between having a doctor’s note and not,” Sickel said. “Why does it even matter? If you can allow one, why not the other?”
The Edge office refused to answer questions in regards to its policy and the change in enforcement. The Village at Science Drive has the same policy as The Edge because they are owned by the same corporation.
White and Sickel expressed that these problems could be avoided if complexes were more thorough in their explanation of expectations and policies during tours and lease signings.