By: Jess Barfield
Does it even need to be said that students love pets, and especially dogs (I have a pup and don’t get me started!) (see the book by Mark Cushing, “Pet Nation: The Love Affair That Changed America”). Even with rules regulating where dogs can go on campus, we still see them at UTK to the delight of many students. In fact, to relieve stress felt during final exams, therapy dogs have been known to appear in Hodges library seeking hugs, pets, and play partners. But more recently, students have been seeking the companionship of dogs for another reason- as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, due to COVID-19, in some regions of the country, there aren’t enough dogs in local shelters to meet the demand.
As more and more people acquire dogs, once they return to work, the opportunity may knock for dog-loving UTK students seeking part-time work to help with expenses. In fact, this may very well be a great opportunity for students as dog walkers, actually a lucrative job in some cities.
Of course, dogs may be on campus if they are designated service animals. And as indicated by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, service animals are permissible for use by faculty, staff, and students. But generally on the UTK campus, for health reasons, pets are not allowed in the residence halls or buildings, with the exception being fish and service animals. The Student Disability Services at 865-974-6087 can be contacted for additional information on service animals.
The figure below was generated using Adam Brown Social Media Command center tools to determine the sentiment based on social media posts toward dogs being on a college campus. Of the social media posts during the period August 16 to September 17, 2020, 61.6 % of the posts that contained the keywords “pets”, “dogs”, and “campus” had a positive sentiment.
Finally, in any discussion of dogs on the UTK campus, let’s not forget Smokey, the official university mascot, a welcome sight around campus of course!