IU students enjoy this time of year for a few reasons. By now you’ve settled into your new place, gotten a feel for your class schedule and you have high goals for how this is going to be your best semester ever. For a lot of students, they hope to switch up their life with the addition of a new furry friend.
I know, you’re thinking, “If I just get a dog I would finally have the motivation to run with it and lose that 10 pounds I’ve been meaning to. Plus it will have one ear that sticks straight up and one that flops, those are the cutest.”
All jokes aside, this is one decision that you should really think carefully about before running to the nearest pound or contacting your friend giving kittens away on Facebook. Getting a pet while in college is a bad idea for a few reasons:
College living is unique because it’s one of the few times in your life where it is socially acceptable to sleep in public places, eat desserts out of a mug, and go out on a Tuesday. With an ever-changing college schedule you are free to do essentially anything you want at any given time. Insert a pet into the equation and you lose some of those freedoms. You might find your boss unhappy with you when you have to leave work to let your dog out to use the bathroom, or you may have to turn down that weekend trip to Chicago because nobody is willing to care for your pet on their own days off. College also means adjusting to new living situations and schedules. These big changes can stress animals out and if you end up barely interacting with your pet because you’re too busy, what’s the point?
What can happen when you leave your pet alone for too long.
This is one of the most under-anticipated challenges to owning a pet that I’ve seen. Unless you live alone you will need to get all of your roommates on board with adopting a pet too because you share the same living space. Everyone may be enthusiastic at first, but don’t think that they’re automatically agreeing to take care of the pet as if it were their own. Living with roommates is already tricky and you can get into some hot water by adding a potentially noisy, messy, or allergy-inducing new member to the household.
You will be presented with all sorts of new issues when it comes time for making housing arrangements for years to come. If you’re changing roommates it can be very hard to find someone willing to live with your pets, not to mention finding an apartment that will allow pets. If you do find an apartment, they will likely charge a monthly pet fee for the higher risk of damages. I called some popular apartment buildings around Bloomington to see what their pet policies were, below are my results:
IU campus housing - Strict no pets policy.
Greek housing - no pets.
Smallwood - no pets.
Stadium Crossing - Said they do allow pets for some units but couldn't give me any further information.
The Village - Pets are allowed. $250 down when you register the pet and $25 a month after that.
Reserve on 3rd - Phasing out pet policy because of damage issues.
Off-campus house (no company association) - Landlord prefers no pets but allows them with $200 down and $25 a month.
Hoosier Court - Allows pets, call for pricing.
The possibility of not being able to find a roommate who wants to put up with Fluffy and the already difficult decision of finding college housing is reason enough to wait until after graduation.
You may be chowing down on Ramen for a week straight because you had to buy flea medication for Rex, or it was time to spay your new kitten. If they actually get sick it’s a nightmare to find time to visit the vet in between classes. Not to mention the actual price of the pet itself. I don’t know why anyone would buy from a pet store when adopting from a shelter or Craigslist is often free, but factor that in too and you might find yourself in a hole financially.
This shows some of the costs associated with owning a pet.
This goes along with housing, but it’s so important that lazy college students understand this. If you hold off on doing laundry for weeks and can’t seem to find time to wash dishes, why on Earth do you want to take on the responsibility of a pet? They aren’t just cute little angels that shower you will love and provide snuggling during Netflix while you’re #foreveralone. Pets scratch, shed, poop, and pee and if you’re constantly ignoring the full litter box your pet and roommates will be very unhappy.
Adopting a pet is a long, long commitment to make. Most college students can barely decide what to eat for dinner every day, let alone made a huge commitment like owning a pet for the next 12+ years. One of the worst things you can do is adopt a puppy or kitten and then give it away in six months when it’s no longer small and adorable or starts to become too much work. You should also think about what will happen when you graduate; you’ll be moving to a new city and it’s hard to plan for that when you and your pet come as a package.
Pets are nice when you’re watching internet videos or visiting home, but caring for them while keeping up with your life in college is just not realistic for many students. I focused mainly on cats/dogs in this article, but if you've been thinking of bringing a small animal like a rabbit or even a hedgehog into your life be sure to weigh the pros and cons.
I'm not hating on owning pets, I've just experienced/heard of horror stories that can come along when college students and pets mix. College is a time to discover more about your interests, make friends, and have fun. Think carefully about the responsibilities of a pet. Only you can know what is best for you.