Caught Sneaking a Pet into Your Dorm Room? Here’s What to Do

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Sep 04, 2022 | 0 Comments

Despite no-pet policies, students sneaking animals into their dorm rooms and keeping them as pets is extremely common. From small, low-maintenance pets such as hamsters, rabbits, turtles, guinea pigs, mice, and chinchillas to larger pets like cats and dogs, and even reptiles or pythons – almost all universities have had to contend with pets inside college dorms.

If you have had to move away from home to attend college, you may feel tempted to take your beloved pup, turtle, or snake along – or even get a new pet for company. However, most US universities (96%, according to this estimate) do not allow pets in dorm rooms, with the exception of legally mandated service animals.

Why US Colleges Have Strict Rules Against Pets on Campus

While it may seem unfair to student pet owners, allowing pets on campus comes with a host of complex legal and other considerations for college authorities. Some students may be allergic to, or scared of, certain animals and requiring them to put up with others' pets could be considered very unfair.

Additionally, pets can cause property damage and increase cleaning costs, an expense the college has to bear. A pet biting or scratching someone, particularly if it isn't properly vaccinated, can result in expensive and lengthy lawsuits against the college.

Moreover, a cramped dorm room isn't the best living environment for a pet. Students often lead extremely busy lives and may neglect their pets, resulting in animal cruelty.

Service Animals Are Legally Permissible

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires all colleges and universities to allow service animals (dogs that are trained to perform tasks for a disabled person) on campus. Additionally, the Fair Housing Act requires housing providers, including colleges and universities, to make “reasonable accommodation” to allow assistance animals, including emotional support animals.

Emotional support animals can include dogs, birds, cats, or an existing pet and do not require service training. You will, however, require a letter from a licensed mental health professional to qualify you for an emotional support animal.

Unlike service animals, universities aren't federally obligated to accommodate emotional support animals, but with proper documentation, they will, in most cases, allow it.

What To Do If You Are Caught Living With An Unauthorized Pet

Although universities don't typically take very severe action against students caught keeping pets in their dorm rooms, it could still lead to very unpleasant consequences nevertheless. You could be evicted from campus housing, have to pay a fine, or be required to relocate your pet immediately.

If you are caught living with a pet without permission, you could be in violation of the code of conduct at your college, and it would be a good idea to seek professional representation. But if you have a service or assistance animal that you need for your physical or mental well-being, an experienced law professional like Joseph D. Lento can help you uphold your rights and get the accommodation you require.

If you find that your school or college isn't allowing you the disability accommodations you need, call Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's Student Defense Team today. You can call us at 888-535-3686 or reach us online.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


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