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Annabelle the chihuahua (above) attends Stephens Women's College in Missouri along with her mommy Elena Christian. Among freshmen alone for 2010, thirty incoming were given permission to bring a family pet with them, to the dorm known as Pet Central.

Another college dorm chihuahua is shown below. It's believed the option of bringing one's pet eases the transition for some students anxious about leaving home for the first time and adjusting to college. It also encourages responsibility at a time in youth when parents no longer stand guard.

Stephens College is not unique. An increasing number of schools nation-wide are allowing either cats or dogs or both, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, State University of New York at Canton, Eckerd College in South Florida, Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania, and a half-dozen others. The number of colleges permitting pets in dorms is expected to increase over the next few years.

Elena Christian, a dance major entering her senior year, said that being able to raise her 18-month-old chihuahua in her dorm enhanced her social and academic experiences at college. "She keeps me calm," Elana said of Annabelle. "Sometimes during finals week, I get stressed out. She always does something to make me laugh."

College Dorm

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