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Website gives SUNY Canton pet-friendly nod

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CANTON — One north country college campus has been noted for being friendly to all creatures, great and small.

Petside.com recently named SUNY Canton one of the top 10 pet-friendly colleges in the U.S. for the second year in a row.

The magazine cited the university’s Pet Wing, a portion of the Mohawk Hall dormitory that allows students to bring their pets from home, said John M. Kennedy, director of residence life.

“A lot of students come to Canton specifically because we have a pet wing,” he said. “It is a good recruiting tool for the college. Students desire to have pets with them at college.”

Mr. Kennedy said students find bringing pets from home often cures them of their homesickness.“I think that it really just comes down to that: students are comfortable with their pets from home,” he said. “At most colleges you can’t do that.”

The wing, established in 1997, accommodates 46 students and boasts a long waiting list, Mr. Kennedy said. Students are allowed to bring any pet except dogs, birds and snakes.

Many students in SUNY Canton’s veterinary technician program live in the dorm, said Mary O. Loomis, program director, giving residents an easily accessible resource for information about their pets.

“Many of our students to live there because they love animals,” she said. “The students in the pet wing look to those students for a little bit of support. They look to vet-tech students for a little bit of guidance.”

Ms. Loomis said the school boasts one of a few four-year veterinary technician programs in the country, another element that makes it pet-friendly.

“When we first opened the program two years ago, there were less than 20 four-year programs,” she said. “We also have the associate degree, too. I want to make sure that students understand there is a two-year program and a four-year program.”

Through a partnership with the North Country Animal Shelter in Malone, students are given hands-on experience.

“That shelter does allow us to use their animals in our labs,” Ms. Loomis said. “While they are here, one of our vets spays and neuters those animals for free, vaccinates them, and we take care of any mild health issues.”

The 15-year-old partnership teaches students to deal with animals of different species and sizes, Ms. Loomis said.

“Our students get to see all different personalities of animals,” she said. “We have over 100 students who all love animals, so the animals get socialized very well, too.”

Ms. Loomis said many of the animals sent by the shelter end up being adopted by faculty, staff and students.

“It certainly is a unique situation that we have. It lends to good relations for the campus,” she said.

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