The lives of college students can be very busy and full. From internships to thesis presentations to study abroad experiences, their calendars are seemingly bursting with never ending appointment reminders. This is why many college students consider adopting a pet a great goal for the very distant future. However, despite the time constraints and financial concerns, some soon-to-be grads can’t quite curb their desire to bring home a fluffy ball of fur.
While it’s true that pets can offer comfort, security, and stress relief to young adults away from home, prospective owners must seriously consider whether they can handle all the responsibilities that come with owning an animal companion.
Safety, Comfort, Health
College can be incredibly isolating, and many young adults find themselves yearning for a best friend with whom they can share new experiences. However, there are some realities that must be considered, like housing.
It’s not unheard of for colleges to allow pets in dormitories. For example, nearby Emory University welcomes comfort animals, but they do require documentation.
Living on campus may limit a student’s ability to keep a pet. Off-campus arrangements can often be made, but it may come with a hefty pet deposit.
The Elephant in the Room
According to the ASPCA, adopting a pet can cost between $300-$600 depending on the animal. Veterinary care, licensing fees, food, toys, treats, grooming, and other expenses can total over $500 each year. In the absence of a serious medical emergency, owning a pet may not be prohibitively expensive, but unexpected illness or injury can set a college student back about $2,000. Although pet insurance can be helpful in a situation like this, it also comes with a monthly cost.
Talkin’ About Time
Most college graduates have debt, and adding veterinary bills to the mix isn’t exactly the most frugal decision. Plus, college is about creating and embracing opportunities. Whether it’s traveling somewhere new or a potential job offer in a different city, adopting a pet can impact your future plans.
Adopting a pet at a time when life decisions may be unknown can also negatively affect a pet who thrives on routine and stability. Pets require proper care and attention, and aging pets may require additional support, making future travel, job growth, or moving more difficult.
Ask for Help
When students are able to keep up with the daily demands and financial responsibilities of owning a pet, the experience can be incredibly beneficial for everyone. However, it’s ok to ask for help from others (roommates, friends, etc.). Enlist their assistance when it comes to meals, bathroom breaks, and exercise requirements. Day camps and boarding facilities may also be good options.
Alternatives to Adopting a Pet
If now is not the right time to adopt, consider volunteering at your local shelter or rescue. Unfortunately, many pets are surrendered each year because their owners are unable to meet their needs. Also ask about college pet therapy programs.