He was always happy to see you, with his tail wagging wildly, and no matter how you did on that exam, he was always up for cuddling. But that was at home, and now at school, after that awful economics midterm, there is no one waiting in your room to greet you, except for maybe some roommates, who may or may not resemble your lovable pet from home.
No pets are allowed in any on-campus housing, because many students suffer from allergies caused by pets in or near a resident’s room that are a detriment to their health, said Seth Weinshel, director of GW Housing Programs.
The Residential Community Conduct Guidelines and Administrative Policies state: “No animals of any kind, other than properly attended service animals for individuals with disabilities are permitted in University residence halls.”
But once a student moves off campus, it’s a different rulebook. Many apartment complexes allow pets for a fee, and some students jump on the chance to have that constant companion. Despite the truckload of schoolwork, activities, jobs, and internships, some students still opt to have their lovable ball of fluff.
On the corner of 21st and F streets, a small white dog with brown spots can often be seen running around the yard of the Phi Sigma Kappa house welcoming visitors. The 4-year-old Jack Russell terrier named Prince has become a prominent fixture on F Street, and lives in the house because owner Kris Hart said he is always on campus. Hart graduated from GW in 2005 and is currently in the process of opening Foggy Bottom Grocery. He also owns Relaxed Tans and Spa.
Prince once belonged to a friend of Hart’s, and eventually became an honorary Phi Sigma Kappa “brother” after all of his friends fell in love with him. Prince was never a liability or concern of any sorts, because the alumni association privately owns the Phi Sigma Kappa house. Therefore, GW Housing Policies are not applicable.
“He basically chases squirrels, runs around and plays with the ball all day. It can get to be expensive, but is completely worth it,” Hart said.
The current president of Phi Sigma Kappa, junior Daniel Blake, said that everyone in the fraternity takes part in taking care of Prince.
“Personally, I feed him occasionally and take him outside and walk him,” Blake said in an e-mail. “Prince has it pretty good because he has 30+ owners who all take care of him.”
Although pets can be an entertaining and lovable companions, they come with a price tag and many responsibilities.
Senior Regina Grossman, who lives off campus, is the proud owner of Harvey Bell Grossman, an 8-month-old mixed breed cat she said she purchased to keep her company while her friends went abroad last semester.
Grossman said she spends about $50 a month on cat litter and food. Last summer, while she was traveling in Rwanda, a friend took care of Harvey. After graduation, Grossman said she plans on taking Harvey wherever she goes.
Zach Robbins, a junior, has a 6-month-old cockapoo named Flo.
“It’s fun to have a pet around always eager to play, cuddle, etc.” Robbins said. “It’s less lonely in a place where you have no family.”
Robbins shares the responsibilities of caring for Flo with his boyfriend.
“It is hard to keep a pet happy if you are living in a large building with nowhere close by for the pet to play,” Robbins said. “It is unfair to your pet if you neglect it, so it is important to make sure that you are ready to be committed to your pet.”
Students who consider breaking campus rules and having a pet in a dorm should beware. The University conducts Health and Safety inspections on a regular basis in the residence halls, and if residents are suspected of having a pet, they are instructed to remove the pet within 24 hours.