Question and Answer: Potential Pet Friendly Community

By Ali Napoli

Contributing Writer

Maegan Winkelmann ’13 is trying to break the mold of conventional dormitory living by introducing pet-friendly housing for those who are interested in living with pets. This could range from fish to caged animals like hamsters or gerbils to larger, domesticated animals like cats. In an interview with Maegan, she describes exactly what this offer is about.
The Bucknellian: How did the idea for pet-friendly living come about?
Winkelmann: The idea came about because I am an animal behavior major. I have many pets at home and I love animals. I know how important animals can be to people. Last year I had some problems with depression, and something that was really helpful was having something alive in my room other than myself. I went out and bought fish and they really helped with stress. Having an animal can really be a comfort in this high-stress environment.

The Bucknellian: Where on campus would this living with pets be available?
Winkelmann: Right now, we are trying for this through the Affinity Housing Program, so it would most likely be in a small house. Where it would be would depend on how many people we would get. Everyone who commits to living in this program would have the ability to apply to have his or her pets live there. We would check the applications and make sure the pets have cleared vet records and are social. The application process will also help us have a variation of pets in the house, so we wouldn’t end up having a majority of cats or something of that nature. Not everyone necessarily has to have a pet.

The Bucknellian: What kinds of animals would you accept?
Winkelmann: We are really looking for smaller, caged animals. Animals like hamsters, rats, birds and small lizards are acceptable. Cats are acceptable, but again we would review applications before accepting any pets. Dogs at the moment don’t seem practical because the administration is having some problems with allowing dogs into the program. Smaller animals that can be contained are the best because you don’t really have to worry about them wandering. They are easier to control and maintain.

The Bucknellian: You mentioned earlier about how having a pet helped you through a hard time. Could this option of living be connected through Psychological Services, so kids could maybe use this as a therapeutic method?
Winkelmann: I would love to do that. One of the things that I want this program to do if it goes through is to do outreach. We could have open house hours where people could come and visit the animals for whatever reasons they might have. They could come play with them. We would also have educational events about pet care. I think it is very important that this be something that benefits the whole campus and community.

The Bucknellian: Are there any rules for the application? How could one go about applying?
Winkelmann: The application doesn’t really have any rules. We will accept applications from first-years through juniors. We don’t have any bias against owners. It would be easier if you had the animal for some time already, so you know it pretty well and are comfortable with it. As of right now, we need people to commit to living in the house, and then the application would follow. Everything would be via email, so applications could be submitted over the Internet. People with any questions are more than welcome to email me. I would be happy to meet with anyone if they are interested in living in the house. Right now we have about seven people and we need in total about 20 people. If you commit to the house and the pet community doesn’t end up going through, you aren’t bound to the house at all. You can still receive a raffle number [for the regular housing lottery].

Please contact Meagan Winkelmann ([email protected]) for any additional questions or interest in this original residential experience.

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