Adopting a pet in college

How to decide what pet fits your lifestyle

By Shaylea Stark
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Local college student with her recently adopted puppy. Photo by Shaylea Stark.

Moving to college can be a difficult time, especially if you suddenly find yourself without all of your furry friends. Going from having animals around you at all times to none is hard, and leads many people desiring that affection. Deciding whether to adopt a pet in college can be difficult because you often only think about the positives that come from it, not the negatives. When asked if adopting in college is a good idea, Jocelyn Hayden said, “How can I take care of a pet if I can’t take care of myself?”

The top pros for adopting a pet: First, they are always happy to see you and will hang out with you, even when your friends won’t. Second, depending on the pet, you will get more exercise. If your dog is driving you crazy to take them on a walk, it benefits both of you. Third, they can help you destress. When you get home after a long day of school and work, they will help you relax and forget about everything.

The top cons for adopting a pet: First, they can cost a lot of money. From food to toys to vet visits, the money adds up. Second, finding a place to live can become more difficult. Some places do not allow pets, some only dogs and cats of certain breeds. On campus housing does not allow pets, except fish or service animals, while east campus allows dogs and cats.

Third, spontaneous weekend trips become less of an option. Unless you have a designated pet sitter and money for one, you can’t decide last minute to leave town with friends. Fourth, animals can damage your house/apartment and your belongings. Dogs have been known to eat door frames, clothes, blankets, pillows, shoes, papers, makeup and even cash. Cats are known to destroy blinds, knock glass items off counter tops and scratch furniture.

When considering whether to get a pet in college, you have to decide how much time and money you are willing to spend on them. If you are gone for most of the day, consider getting an animal that can be left alone for longer time periods like a cat, hamster, reptile or fish. When asked why he chose a guinea pig, Neil Morrison said, “It is small, soft, easy to take care of and helps me relieve stress. Dogs are big and hard to take care of, which is why I went for a smaller pet.”

If you decide you want a dog, it is important to choose a breed that works with your lifestyle. If you are very active and want a partner to run and go on hikes with, an active dog breed like a shepherd or lab would work the best. If you want a dog to cuddle with and take on short walks, a smaller dog that requires less exercise would be better.

There is also the decision on whether to get an adult or a puppy or kitten. When deciding this, you must realize that the younger the animal, the more time and money it takes. If you don’t want to deal with potty training or sharp teeth, a more mature pet would be the way to go. Pets can make your life more fun, but also more difficult. Owning a pet is not for everyone and different types of pets work better with different people.

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