Eckerd College graduation honors students' pets -- of all kinds

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It has all the makings of a graduation. There's a packed auditorium, decorations, and a giant celebratory sheet cake. But the graduates at this Eckerd College graduation are a little different. There's Rocco, an English bulldog. Astrid, a lynx-point Siamese cat, and even Pinto the hedgehog.

This is Eckerd College’s annual pet graduation. The ceremony celebrates pets -- big and small -- and all they do for owners during their college careers. Senior Emma Filgate is attending in support of Astrid.

"It’s really great, emotionally, to have some part of home or your family with you here," she said.

Eckerd College sees great value in the pet-friendly environment it creates. The school had 304 registered pets on campus this year, including 20 hamsters, 32 lizards, four hermit crabs, and 15 fish. 

"We hope that it gains the attention of people who think coming here and having the opportunity to bring their pet would be a good thing for them, seeing that it’s not only permitted but celebrated," explained Lauren Burr, the associate director for residence life.