Adopting a pet in college

Going off to college is an incredibly exciting experience. A new city, new school, friends, food, a new life…

Once you’ve been in college for a while you develop a whole new friend group different from the one in your life before college. When looking at your life you may notice that not having a pet to come home to is a large hole that you would like filled.

Before making the choice to adopt a new pet, you should consider your lifestyle. You need to carve time from your day to interact with your new pet. While you are also taking classes, extracurriculars, dating, working, and not sleeping enough. Owning a pet is like being in a committed relationship. A dog is going to need walks, regular feeding, interaction and a cat would need to be cleaned up after but require less action out of the home.

Making the decision to get a pet is just as important as your major. Dogs, especially young dogs, need training. They will need to be housebroken, to learn to stay in a kennel while you are gone for classes. Beyond the initial cost of adopting a pet they also will require food, toys, vet care, collars, leashes… the list goes on.

If you’ve decided you’re definitely going to own a pet in college, you might also want to consider what type of pet you are going to get. The most important thing to determine when getting a new pet is picking one to suit your lifestyle and their needs. If you are a very active person, then getting a dog that could go on runs and go hiking with you is important. If you are a relatively inactive person, then find a cat satisfied with sleeping next to you and keeping you company. It would be no fun if your dog flopped down during a run because he didn’t want to run anymore. Just like how it would throw a wrench in your day if while you’re writing a paper, your dog is zooming around your apartment. All dogs need exercise and training to some extent, but it differs depending on the individual – just like people. Take the time to research different breeds’ characteristics. If you’re looking at rescuing a dog, then make sure you talk about the dog’s normal routine with the workers at the shelter.

If after all of these considerations, you decide adopting a pet isn’t right for you that doesn’t mean you should stop there. Shelters often need volunteers, staff, advocates, and foster parents. Look into your community and see what needs you can meet. Supporting a local shelter can be just as impactful as adopting a new pet.

Justin Henry