25 Pet-Friendly Colleges in America

Use the map above to locate a pet-friendly college near you.

Heading off to college for the first time and leaving the comforts of home can be a difficult transition. And for students leaving an animal companion behind, the move can feel even more difficult.

While most schools have a strict no pet policy for campus housing, some offer special accommodations for students to help ease the process.

From lizards to horses, each school has a different pet policy, including restrictions on age, weight, cage, and sometimes, whether or not the animal was a family pet before entering college.

While service animals on campus were once used only exclusively as guide dogs for students with visual impairments, today schools are grappling with a rise of "emotional support animals."

As diagnoses of anxiety, depression and other mental health problems among college students reaches record highs, according the Center of Collegiate Mental Health, so has the prescription of these pets, also known as comfort animals, for their soothing abilities.

Whether or not a school agrees that these animals are therapeutic is besides the point; imposing an outright animal ban for all students could violate federal law prohibiting discrimination in housing.

Kevin, a teen with autism and cerebral palsy, knew he found a forever friend when he met Yukon, an eight month old great dane, at a kennel. Kevin's mother, Tabatha Branch, said the feeling was mutual.

"It was really amazing when we got there to the rescue shelter when they brought Yukon back out he immediately just walked up to Kevin and wrapped his arms around and laid his little head on him, it was so precious. It was just like instant," Branch told NBC affiliate WBBH.

Branch said she believes Yukon would know if her son was going to have a seizure and alert them, adding that the family is happy Kevin has found such a loyal best friend.

(Published Monday, July 24, 2017)

So which college is most pet-friendly? According to Animal Planet, Eckerd college. Residents may choose from 14 residence halls that permit dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, chinchillas and ferrets. In addition, small pets in cages are permitted in all residence halls. Students also have access to a local veterinarian who does pet health checks twice a year.

Best of all, outgoing pets at Eckerd are honored at a separate graduation ceremony.

6 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet While pets can motivate owners to take on healthy habits, like exercise, they can also motivate people to kick unhealthy habits. A study published by the the journal Tobacco Control found that more than a quarter of pet-owning smokers attempted to quit smoking after learning about the negative effects of secondhand smoke on their animals, which includes cancers in cats and dogs; allergies in dogs; and eye, skin and respiratory diseases in birds. Matthew King/Getty Images