Florida College Honors the Companion Animals of Students with Their Own Graduation
Everyone needs a little help from a friend now and then.
The 27 animals "graduating'' from Florida's Eckerd College were a vital and friendly part of their owners' school experience.
For the past five years, the college has honored the companion animals of their graduating seniors with their own ceremony.
This year, the scaly, furry and prickly class of 2017 included 10 dogs, nine cats, three rats, a snake, a guinea pig, a desert tortoise, a parakeet and a hedgehog.
During the May 9 ceremony, each of the animals, some of whom were wearing caps and gowns, were individually called to the stage, where they were met with cheers from attending students, staff and family.
Once on stage, each graduate recieved an Eckerd College ID tag and a certificate from the school's president Donald Eastman.
"This really is one of my favorite events at Eckerd College," wrote Eastman in a statement. "[This event] tells you more about what sort of place this is than any other," the president said.
Eckerd College has a long history of showing respect to pets, and the role they play in our lives. Eckerd was the first school in America to accept on-campus pets, understanding that they can improve student life on campus.
Since starting the separate ceremony in 2013, over 190 animals have 'graduated' from Eckerd College.
Eckerd College students living on campus are permitted to bring one larger animal — dog under 40 pounds, cat, rabbit, ferret, duck and chinchillas — or two smaller ones — fish, hamsters, gerbils, amphibians, nonvenomous reptiles under four feet long and small birds.