We all know more than one college pet owner. From everyday pets like dogs or cats, to obscure animals like geckos and certain fish, college students are among the growing population of pet owners due to loneliness, camaraderie, and even to attract attention from females.
But just at what cost really is that doggy in the window?
Dog and other pet owners require countless hours of attention, something that many college students cannot provide. According to USA Today, the average college student studies anywhere from 17 to 45 hours per week. In addition, College Parents of America say that college students who use alcohol, tend to do so about 9 to 10 hours per week.
However, pets require many hours of attention themselves, far beyond the simple task of a lifetime of loving them. Pets require regular schedules to be taken outside and/or cleaned, fed, their bathroom duties removed from yards, bowls, litter boxes, etc., and do not come cheap. Most houses or apartments that college students live in have strict rules about pets, either charging a hefty fee to raise a pet or ban them all together. They also come with fees of shots, medications, illnesses, teeth cleaning, food, obedience classes, etc. According to Fox, raising a puppy can cost anywhere from $4,620 and $32,990 over its lifetime.
So, are college students really fit to be raising these pets?
I personally have heard of friends saying they watched a pet be abused when someone was inebriated while others completely gave up caring for their pet all together— allowing him/her to drink from the leftover cups of alcohol on the ground, or not cleaning their litter box for over three months. Now, I don't want to get all Sarah McLaughlin on you, but this is appalling.
Pets should be loved and cared for at all times. Students need to come to the realization that adopting or buying a pet in college requires intense amounts of time and money. This cannot be done if you spend every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at Brick Street, or while cramming for exams while your precious puppy feels unloved and neglected peeing in the corner because it has not been taken outside. In addition, the college student stigma of being broke is not used lightly. There are some exceptions to the standard, however, but most college students are on tight budgets due to the high expenses of attending a university.
It is important to address the growing number of college students who are adopting and raising pets, as well as the treatment of those pets. College students need to be aware that with raising a pet, comes a complete lifestyle change. You will have to put studies in the back seat from time to time, and stay in on a 90s night while your friends are out. Can you do this? If not, pet lovers, do not fret. You can spend time volunteering at a local animal shelter or getting involved with fostering a dog for a week or two, just recognize what is best for the both of you— you, and that furry, scaly, or whiskered best friend of yours.