Pets abandoned after graduation


Although many students say goodbye to their pets when they go away to college, a number of students in Tallahassee decide to share their college experience with their furry friends.

Many students become pet owners by chance. Some find a stray kitten outside their apartment. Others may end up taking in a dog that a friend can no longer care for.

“During this time of the year, we do see a rise in pets being dropped off,” said Delina Swartz, a kennel technician at the Westwood Animal Hospital in Tallahassee. “Students should know that animals aren’t a toy. They’re a huge responsibility and require time. If you can’t take care of it, don’t get it.”

With graduation approaching, many pets are in jeopardy of losing their homes.

“I’ve had my dog Bella since before I came to college,” said Amy Davis, a recent graduate of Florida State University. “I’m taking her to grad school, too.”

However, that is not the case for all pets whose owners are students. When the semester ends, many students are unable to take their pets with them.

“When I leave, I still don’t know where I’m going,” said Raquelle Davis, a senior pharmacy student from Miami. “I don’t even have a place lined up. I can’t really worry about another life right now.”

Student pet owners in a similar position as Davis may utilize different avenues to find new homes for their pets.

Online sites, such as Craigslist, have sections dedicated to pets. People are able to post ads with pictures of their pets who are seeking new homes

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have also become an avenue for reaching out to future pet owners.

However, the local animal shelter may be a quicker solution.

The Tallahassee-Leon Community Animal Service Center took in 10,700 animals between October 2009 and September 2010, according to shelter records.

Graduation and student housing move-out dates contribute to a large number of animals being dropped off at the shelter.

“The highest month was back in May of 2009,” said Richard Ziegler, director of Animal Control.” That is when we saw the greatest influx of animals and was also the largest fiscal year overall with 11,400 pets.”

It is nearly impossible to find a new home for all of the pets that are brought in. Many healthy animals are put to sleep due to lack of facilities.

The upcoming commencement ceremonies of FSU, Florida A&M and Tallahassee Community College bring about big decisions and changes for students and their pets.

For information about adopting or becoming a pet foster parent, contact the Leon County Humane Society at 850-224-9193 or visit