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In a new policy, La Salle University has decided to allow some students to apply to live with a dog. (Photo by Beckwoodworth | CC BY-SA 4.0)

Students at La Salle University in Philadelphia will soon have the option of living in a dog-friendly residence hall.

Starting next fall semester, La Salle students applying to live at St. George Hall can also apply to keep small dogs under 30 pounds. The residence hall is the first of its kind among universities in Philadelphia and will include a dog-run for exercise, a washing station, and a dog-friendly lounge space, La Salle News reported. Only one dog is permitted for each applicant.

While La Salle has long had a policy allowing dogs for emotional support, the dorm expands this opportunity to all students in a move that La Salle administrators hope will improve mental health and appeal to prospective students.

“There are mental, physical, and emotional benefits to having a pet and [we] are excited to provide this option to our on-campus community,” La Salle’s Vice President of Student Affairs Dawn Soufleris told La Salle News.

Penn students can apply to have emotional support and service animals through Student Disability Services, which has helped students combat depression and improve their mental health.

“Allowing students the option to bring a pet to campus provides many opportunities for self-growth,” Assistant Vice President of Residence Life and Community Development Alan Wendell told La Salle News. “Owning a dog helps teach responsibility and compassion, both of which are important life skills we hope to instill in our students."