Students should reconsider getting pets while in college

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Photo Credit: Rachel West

It’s no secret that owning a pet can be a rewarding and loving experience. In Austin, one can see the love many have for their furry friends simply by walking down the street. Perhaps you will run into an organic pet food store with homemade dog treats, or maybe you will encounter Sid, the Austin Dog Mayor. This infatuation with pets extends to the UT campus as well: If you listen to the conversations of people around you, you’ll probably hear someone complaining about how they miss their dog or cat.

However, college students must be wary about their excitement for animals and try not to make brash decisions about adopting. It is imperative that pet owners are able to supply their animal with the proper attention, living supplies and space, which can be difficult for college students paying up to $30,000 a year while taking a full course load at UT-Austin. We owe it to our animals to treat them ethically and responsibly, especially considering we are the ones that chose to adopt them.

Hannah Horstman, events and outreach manager for Austin Pets Alive, pointed out the costly and timely nature of owning an animal.

“Dogs can live, on average, 10-15 years and cats can live, on average, 15-20 years old. Your pet will need a yearly veterinary check up, monthly flea/tick/heartworm preventative medication and of course, daily food,” Horstman said via email. “You should also consider the possibility of a veterinary emergency — from a broken bone, to foreign body surgery… If you rent, you should also consider a pet deposit — I’ve seen as much as $500/pet.”

The issue of rehoming, an under-considered harm on pets’ welfare, often appears on the UT Pets Facebook group because students often rent and change apartment complexes. It is not uncommon for college students to live in an apartment one year that allows animals, and then move to another complex the next that does not.

While there certainly are circumstances where it is best to rehome an animal, we owe it to our furry friends to create a stable as possible environment for them.

“The life of an animal shouldn’t be taken lightly or treated as a disposable object,” Horstman said.

Having a pet is an amazing and rewarding experience, but there are many aspects that need to be taken into consideration before adoption. Owning a pet while living in an apartment in West Campus is substantially different from owning a pet while living in a house in the suburbs. While there’s nothing like coming home after a long day and petting a fluffy creature, we owe it to our furry friends to take proper care of them and cannot ignore their needs for selfish, though well-meaning, reasons.

Vernon is a PACE freshman from the Woodlands. Follow her on Twitter @_emilyvernon_.