FAMU students sets fashion trends by taking pets to classrooms

It is common to see students toting around teacup-sized dogs in shoulder bags as they go about their day.

Dog experts say a majority of students do not have poochies for companionship.

“I feel 99 percent of college students have their dogs for a fashion accessory,” said David Roundtree, a Petco grooming expert.

Teacups were once known as status symbols; they were used as royalty and nobility. Not only have these pooches been recognized as man’s best friend, but they have also become women’s best accessory.

Teacup dogs, which are two to four pounds, and toy dogs, which are five to seven pounds, have become popular on college campuses. Students take their pets to class, shopping malls, church and various other places simply because they can fit in school bags and purses.

“I have seen students with dogs, and I think it’s good that students have pets. However, I feel pets shouldn’t be allowed to come into classes, due to liability,” said Leeshawn Thomas, an assistant professor for department of biological sciences.

Thomas said money should be spent on education instead of dogs. Petco grooming expert Donald Drew said enjoying the companionship should be the reason students purchase their pets.

“Students need to learn to care, invest time, research their pets and buy them for companionship,” Drew said.

Alexis Dupree, 19, a second-year psychology student from Detroit, said her puppy is for camaraderie. “Although Carlyle, a Pomeranian, is a very fashionable dog, I have him for his good company,” Dupree said.

Dupree paid a breeder $300 for her full breed Pomeranian.

A typical college student attends school full-time, works part-time and is involved in extracurricular activities. With a student’s busy schedule, how can a student care for a pooch and still have the college experience?

“Having a puppy doesn’t affect my school work at all. I play with him when I can and he also entertains himself,” Dupree said. “Carlyle has a play date about two to three times a week and I do plan on throwing a birthday party for his first birthday.”

The fashion trend of owning a teacup and toy pooch has become so popular that it has caused apartment companies to become more flexible with pet policies.

Villa San Marco apartments allow animals. Pet deposits are $300, including a $20 monthly pet fee on top of rent. Dogs are required to be less than 30 pounds and must also obtain renters insurance.

“25 percent of our residents have pets,” said Terrell Saunders, a professional leasing agent.

In addition to basic expenses, grooming, shots and food, student pet owners must pay pricey pet deposits and fees to apartment complexes. Dupree said her apartment charged her a one-time $250 pet deposit.

“Usually college girls have small dogs,” said Sue, a Petco store manager. “I have seen them spend $100 on clothing and accessories, but $35 on food and toys.”

Chelsea Haywood, 22, a fourth-year biology pre-med student from Atlanta, owns a Pomapo, a fluffy tan and gray Pomeranian mixed with Poodle that she purchased from a breeder for $300.Haywood grooms her Pomapo, Cody, in efforts to save money. But unlike some pet owners, she keeps her dog solely for companionship and says she invests a great deal of time in him.

“I come home in between classes and work to let him out and play with him; I spend 30 hours a week with him,” Haywood said.

She spends $50 a month to buy Cody the latest fashion trends, buying him clothes and collars to ensure he has a long life.

“Every time I take him to the vet it’s at least $100,” Haywood said.

Despite the cost of maintaining their lives and economy adversities, students are willing to make the sacrifice for their pooches because they want them to look good.

The most cost efficient pooch for students to purchase according to Lee Dobbins, who researches dog behaviors, is a Pug.

“Pugs are relatively inactive indoors and make great apartment dogs; their short, smooth coat makes the Pug easy to groom,” Dobbins said.

Experts said students should meditate on why they want a dog, what they are looking for in a dog and research different information that interest them so they can meet the needs of their pooches and their pockets.

“I can’t imagine life without Carlyle. He is my son. When he broke his leg, from jumping off my bed, I rushed him to the hospital to get his (leg) cast. I love him,” Dupree said.

Pooches have become like children to students; although they don’t have to suffer morning sickness and gain weight for nine months, the love and attention that dog owners must show to care for these animals will result in love.


•Quality Food $13.99 plus taxApartment pet deposits $150-300•Grooming$15-45 •Vet checkups and shots$40-$100 •Accessories: leashes, collars, pet bags and beds $8-$60•Showing your pet love by spending timepriceless•And many more expenditures to up keep these pooches…