College may be the first time some students are on their own, and the companionship of a pet can offer many advantages – and disadvantages.
“Pets are a lot of responsibility,” said Erin Strong, director of Pet Nursing and Banfield Pet Hospital. “Students should consider three factors before purchasing a pet: their workload, financial situation and how much intimate time they are willing to dedicate to building a relationship with the pet.”
Before students take the plunge to purchase, adopt or bring their pet from home they need to honestly assess their situation. They need to educate themselves about pet-care requirements and the expense of keeping a pet, including unexpected medical bills.
“The financial situation of the student is the most important aspect to consider because college students typically don’t have the funds to support themselves,” said Strong. “They often turn to parents when trying to pay veterinary bills, but parents may not always be able to help, which often leads to the animal being abandoned.”
Before purchasing her Dachshund, Tumbles, Jameeka Devoe, 22, a fourth-year pharmacy student from Jacksonville, discussed it with her parents.
“Since I’m working it’s not a financial burden because I have the money and my parents are more than willing to assist with expenses if needed,” said Devoe.
Students should also consider their living situations. Many students live off campus where locating rental housing that allows small pets can be stressful and incur additional costs.
Another thing to consider is roommates’ preferences when it comes to pets. They may be allergic or prefer not to have a pet. On-campus students face policies by the university that prohibit pets. Students who break the no-pet rule can face fines and possibly eviction.
“Having a roommate can damper the happiness of having a pet,” said Dennis Wright, 20, a third-year healthcare management student from St. Petersburg. “When your roommate is mad at you then they’re mad at the pet – it would just be easier and less stressful to live on your own.”
Planning for the future is also a necessity if you’re interested in getting a pet.
“A lot of students think they can get a cute puppy and that’s it, but they fail to realize that most dogs or cats have the potential to live for a minimum of 10 years,” said Strong.
So what’s the best option for pets and students? If a student is thinking about getting a pet while at school the consequences must be considered and students must educate themselves regarding the proper care and expense of a pet.
Strong said having a pet is a rewarding experience.
“They’re fun to play with, they relieve stress and they’ll love you unconditionally,” she said. “If a student really wants a pet, my first recommendation is a fish. They’re low maintenance and you’re still able to interact with them – Spot is a great name.”
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