What to consider before getting a pet in college

By on February 25, 2014

By Sammie Hill–


Frequently, college students living in a house or apartment have the desire to purchase a pet. Enticed by the cuteness of a puppy or driven by a craving for added companionship, many students decide to take in a pet.


However, students contemplating adopting a pet should consider many things before making a decision. I speak from experience, as I recently adopted a puppy. Granted, I adopted a blind puppy, so he requires more care and attention than other dogs. However, the demands of being a pet owner and U of L student at the same time have taught me lessons that any student considering getting a pet could benefit from.


First and foremost, students should determine which type of pet they would like to adopt. Different pets come with various levels of maintenance and specific needs. Many students opt for low maintenance pets such as fish or lizards. Some decide to adopt cats, which require relatively low maintenance, as they are independent and use a litter box. Other students decide to adopt dogs, which require more care and attention, especially if they have not yet been housebroken.


Students should also consider whether they are financially able to support a pet. The cost of owning a pet greatly varies depending on the type of animal students wish to adopt. For example, owning a dog requires purchases including food, treats, toys, visits to the vet, a dog bed or kennel, and more. Owning a fish, on the other hand, would likely entail few expenses other than food and the initial cost of the tank.


Along with having the financial means, students should also consider the amount of time they have available to devote to caring for the pet. A student who attends three classes a day and then works the evening shift at his or her job probably lacks the adequate amount of time to feed, let out, and play with a dog; however, they could be a wonderful owner to a more low maintenance pet, such as a lizard, rabbit, or hedgehog.


Having a puppy has fiercely tested my time management skills; balancing the responsibility of owning a dog with school, work, volunteering, and hanging out with friends has presented a challenge. Students with demanding course loads or time-consuming jobs should probably shy away from high maintenance pets such as dogs and consider a pet requiring less of a time commitment.


Furthermore, if students frequently make weekend trips to visit friends at other colleges, or follow the Cards to all of their nearby away games, that should factor into their decision. A pet able to be left unsupervised for a long period of time would be more suitable for this person than one that requires more frequent care.


Students should also consider the age of the pet they want to adopt. A young kitten or puppy will require more attention than an older animal that has already been trained, vaccinated and housebroken.


By keeping these factors in mind, students will hopefully be able to determine the ideal pet for them and their lifestyle. While fun and exciting, adopting a pet should be a decision made only after thoughtful consideration. Adopting a pet means taking on the responsibility of caring for another living being, and students should ensure that they are able to supply their pet with a good quality of life.


Photo by Stewart Lewis/The Louisville Cardinal

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