I have been volunteering at an animal shelter for the past year in Kalamazoo, and I have seen some beautiful adoptions, but also too many tear-jerking relinquishments.
Too many people come to us asking to take their four-year-old cat, which they got as a kitten, since their new apartment doesn’t allow pets; Or the puppy that’s getting returned because he destroyed his owner’s new couch.
Moral of the story: these people didn’t think about the lifetime commitment that comes with keeping a dog or cat.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reported that 21 percent of cats and 29 percent of dogs that are relinquished to animal shelters are done so because their new place of residence doesn’t allow pets.
Not only that, but pets are expensive. According to a Money Under 30 article, the first-year cost of owning a dog is $1,270 and of a cat is $1,070. That’s a lot of cash on top of rent, utilities, books, and tuition.
Your cute furry friend also requires time and patience, including walking, playing with, and training dogs, and socializing and cleaning your cat’s litter box. While seemingly small tasks, they can easily get forgotten and make your home uncomfortable for them.
Finally, people seem to forget that you have the rest of your life to get a pet. Wait for a few years, when you have a stable job and income, and you can make the time to commit to your furry friend.
Keeping this all in mind, I do think that getting a hamster, rabbit, fish, or lizard can be a great pet for a busy college student. They are small, require little-to-no veterinary care, and are not disallowed from most apartments.
Another option is, if you have the time, to foster animals. This involves taking animals into your home, feeding them (some shelters subsidize this), socializing them, and getting them adopted. This is still a lot of time and energy, and should not be taken on unless you can commit to that.
It’s a great way to give back to your community, and have that furry friend you desperately want.
Remember, college is for exploring and having fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there is something wrong with forgetting that pets need stability.