Will Oliver photos
Aysiah Stroud (left) and Landon Gaskins hang out with best friends Sunny Bear and Luna.
Coming off a rough semester, Landon Gaskins — a history education major from Helena, Alabama, who was a sophomore in the spring — couldn’t resist when he was offered a free dog.
Gaskins and his 1-year-old emotional support Australian shepherd, Luna, reside in a rental home off campus.
He sought the benefits that can come with owning a pet, specifically while in college.
“I have something to look forward to (Luna), and I’m never alone,” he said. Gaskins said he has never had any issues regarding his dog and the landlord.
When living off campus, maintaining a positive relationship with your landlord and a clear understanding of your rental home’s pet policy will help avoid fines.
Pet owners must be aware of how a dog’s breed can affect rental home insurance coverage, according to Adam Drinkwater, qualifying broker at Landmark Realty in Troy.
“Some insurance companies have provisions in coverage for property and clauses prohibiting certain breeds,” Drinkwater said. He said his worst experience with property and pets involved a boxer, an absent dog sitter, an “emaciated” one-bedroom apartment and $10,000 in damage.
If living on campus, pet owners must clearly communicate their intentions with resident assistants and the housing office.
Herbert Reeves, Troy University’s dean of student services, said he reviews letters of approval for pets on campus and OKs them before the students move into the dorms.
“The documentation we require for an emotional support animal is a letter from a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist stating that the student needs the ESA,” Reeves said.
Aysiah Stroud — a graphic design major from Los Angeles who was a sophomore in the spring — said her 2-year-old emotional support standard poodle, Sunny Bear, makes the perfect roommate, especially with them living on campus.
She brought attention to the social benefits that can come with owning a dog, such as having an easy conversation starter. She also felt more approachable and enjoyed the “mutual interest” between most people and their feelings toward dogs.
“Bringing her (Sunny Bear) here has done us both good in a way,” Stroud said.
Dog vs. squirrels
She said Sunny Bear has shown great training progress since she arrived at Troy, and their only issue is Sunny Bear’s intent to catch campus squirrels every time she sees them.
If you bring your pet to live with you on campus without proper registration, you will likely run into issues with resident assistants and university pet policy. While Stroud said resident assistants enjoy Sunny Bear, they also deal with rowdy animals and their owners daily.
“I remember we had to keep confiscating cats from one resident over and over again because she kept hiding them in her room every time she promised to house them off campus,” said Tremain Crutcher, a former resident assistant.
Not all college pet owners are alike, and some local animal specialists applaud them.
“Me and TARP (Troy Animal Rescue Project) agreed being in a college town, if anything, they (college student pet owners) help,” said Dr. Robert Hawkins, head veterinarian at Troy Animal Clinic.
“My clients are conscientious and good with their pets,” Hawkins said. He recommended using pet food from companies that are known for performing thorough product research.
The assistants at the clinic stressed the importance of pet socialization, care (bathing, fleas, worms), and the relationship between the veterinarian, owner and pet.
“You need to be on a relationship basis (with the vet) because this (pet) is like your child,” said Tina Ballard, a veterinary technician.