DelVal offers new pet-friendly residence hall program

Feb 16, 2015


Credit: Delaware Valley College. Kiara Martinez ’16, a small animal science major, has her cat, Buckwheat, living with her at DelVal. DelVal is allowing small pets in certain residence hall rooms for the first time this year.

Posh, a cat; Ham Ham, a hamster; and Voldemort, a rabbit; are a few of the new residents who moved into a Delaware Valley College residence hall this fall. They are living alongside a group of friendly college students who love having them around. DelVal launched a pilot pet-friendly policy during the 2014-2015 academic year, which allows students to have small pets on the second floor of Samuel Hall. There are about 18 students taking advantage of the policy. Among the new “residents” are rabbits, cats, hamsters, snakes, geckos, and guinea pigs.

“It’s a nice stress reliever when you get to come home to your pet like you would at home,” said Nate Borger ’15, a wildlife conservation and management major who has his rescue cat, Posh, with him at school.

Students drove the process, working with faculty and staff on creating and researching the new pet-friendly policy. They looked at what other schools were doing, consulted animal welfare groups and worked with faculty and staff for a semester to prepare to launch the program. 


Pet-friendly residence hall.

Credit: Delaware Valley College. Rebecca Alpuche '17 and Natalie Kirch '17 with their hamsters Ham Ham and Bijou.

Students who helped create the pet-friendly policy include: April Barnes ’17, Molly Bell ’17, Nate Borger ’15, Raymond Deck ’17, Russell Desmond ’17, Kristen Frank ’17, Bailey Hager ’16, Katelyn Lucas ’17, Madeline Makstein ’18, Nia Rametta ’16, Johanna Ray ’15, Lindsey Schick ’16, Kati Snyder ’17 and Arielle Soldridge ’17. The students worked with Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. April Vari, Director of Student Affairs Operations Derek Smith, Professor Dr. Pam Reed, and Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology Dr. Kathryn Ponnock to create the new policy.

“The students found out that the majority of campuses don’t allow pets,” said Samuel Hall Area Coordinator Ken Peifer. “There weren’t a lot of examples to use to create the policy so, they had to work with experts, animal welfare groups and others to get something we were comfortable trying.”

Sophomore, junior and senior students are eligible for the program. Interested students apply and the Pet Hall Council, which is comprised of students, faculty and staff, approves or denies the requests. Each resident who is approved is permitted to host one habitat containing up to two animals of the same species. Pet Proctors check in on the animals, maintain a list of pets on the floor, inspect the habitats regularly and meet with students about any concerns or issues. So far, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, chinchillas, certain snakes and amphibians, rats, mice and rabbits are allowed. A few cats are also being allowed currently as a test group. There is no additional cost to the students for having a pet, but they are responsible for any damage the pet causes to the hall.

Ham Ham the hamster in a pet-friendly residence hall at delVal

Credit: Delaware Valley College. DelVal introduced a pet-friendly policy in Samuel Hall during the 2014-2015 academic year. Students can apply to have small pets such as rabbits and hamsters. About 18 students took advantage of the new option. Ham Ham, a hamster who lives in Samuel Hall, enjoys a cracker on a student's desk.

DelVal is reviewing the policy to consider expanding the list of approved pets. DelVal is also planning to slowly expand the number of rooms that allow pets since the policy has been very popular with students. The College is considering expanding the policy to both floors of Samuel Hall and a small group of suite style rooms in another residence hall next year.

“Students were told Samuel would be pet-friendly before moving in and made aware in case anyone had allergies,” said Peifer. “It has been fun. So far, the biggest issue we’ve had is a guinea pig with pink eye. We just took it to the vet and it was fine.”

Kiara Martinez ’16, a small animal science major, has her cat Buckwheat living with her at DelVal. He needs a lot of attention and knows how to open too many things in her room, but for her, the extra effort of caring for him is worth it.

“I can’t even explain the feeling,” said Martinez. “If you’re having a bad day your pet is here to welcome you. It’s beneficial to mental health. From an RA standpoint, it also creates a sense of community. People jump at the opportunity to show off their pets.”