Is College the Right Time to Get a New Pet?

Is this the best time to get a dog or cat? Many pets end up on the streets or at rescue centers because students haven’t fully thought through everything that pet ownership entails.

Getting a pet can be tempting if you’re a student. Many students are living away from home for the first time. When you’re in a new place and you don’t know anyone, it can feel strange, lonely and daunting. In this situation, it can be tempting to get a pet, a pet that will give you unconditional love, that will always be there for you, a constant companion.

Related: UNC Students Allowed To Bring Their Pets Back To School With Them

But it’s important to clearly think it all through before you get a pet or you could easily end up in a difficult situation.

  • The first thing to think about, is whether or not pets are actually permitted in your home. It’s likely that you are either staying in a halls of residence or in a rented property. Most student accommodation won’t allow you to have pets, and many landlords also state ‘no pets’ on the tenancy agreement. While it may seem easy to just get a pet anyway, it could get you thrown out of your home, you could lose any bond you’ve put down and of course this could seriously upset your studies.
  • Even if pets are allowed, you really need to think about what you will do during the vacations. Can you take your pet back home with you? Do you have someone who can look after your pet if you go away? Even if you’ve only got a goldfish, it is going to need to be fed if you are away, and if you have to vacate your property during the summer vacation, are you going to be able to transport a fish with you? It’s pretty tricky!
  • Then of course there is the cost of pet ownership. Even the smallest of pets has a cost attached to it. If you’re a student, chances are you’re not particularly rich! You’ll need to feed your pet of course, and all the other associated costs, cat litter, a dog lead, beds, toys. It all quickly adds up!

Related: Students Can Now De-Stress at Brilliant MIT Puppy Lab

  • If you feel you’ve got all that covered, the next thing to consider is what you would do if they were ill. Vets bills can quickly add up. Do you have a way to pay for these if the circumstances arose?
  • Finally, consider whether it’s really fair to own a pet while you’re a student. Is your home really big enough for a pet? Do you have enough time to dedicate to a pet?

It’s probably better to postpone pet ownership until you have finished your studies. If you’re an animal lover and can’t imagine these years at college without a pet, why not use your love of animals to make you a bit of extra cash? You could become a dog walker, or you could feed people’s cats while they are away on vacation. That way you get to spend some quality time with pets, without the complication of owning them yourself. Even better, volunteer at a shelter – rescue organizations are always looking for people to walk dogs or cuddle with cats.

Emily Hutchinson
Emily Hutchinson

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