DS View: College pets

There are many factors anyone needs to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to get a pet — especially when you’re still in college.

While I certainly would not discourage someone from getting a pet in college, I would recommend seriously considering how it is going to impact your life. For example:

Will it have enough space to feel free?

Will it be able to get enough exercise despite all of your daily obligations such as work and class?

Can you afford the food, supplies and medical expenses?

There are some negative factors that need to be considered when making this decision.

First and foremost, college students don’t exactly have a reputation for being the wealthiest of people. Can you really afford to feed your dog, cat or whatever animal you get if you have a hard enough time feeding yourself? If your animal needs an expensive medical procedure you will have to choose between an expensive bill or your animal’s potential suffering.

While it may seem like an obvious choice, many people simply do not have the money to support themselves and paying for an expensive medical procedure is out of the question.

Another consideration is the mess that animals create. While some animals are considerably messier than others, they all to some extent pollute a living space. If you have roommates with mixed feeling about your pet, it would be very disrespectful not to be on top of cleaning up after your pet.

You also need to consider what you will do if you are going to be away from your house for a while. The impulsive road trips or weekends of party hopping and falling asleep on random couches all of a sudden become more complicated. After all, you have a living animal that depends upon you, and it is irresponsible to neglect them for your own pleasure.

On the other hand, a pet serves as a new best friend who is always there for you and loves you unconditionally.

Many people find hanging out with their dog or cat to be a therapeutic experience, and studies have actually proven that interactions with animals can reduce your stress levels. Some nursing homes and hospitals have actually started bringing in therapy cats and dogs for patients, and the results have been very positive.

Finally, having a pet might encourage some positive changes to your own life. For example, not too many college students are motivated to get up and go for a walk in the morning. However, if you have a dog and know that you will need to give it some exercise before you leave for the day, you will find yourself going for walks regularly with your dog, getting both of you into healthy exercise routines.

I recently decided to buy a Netherland dwarf rabbit, who I dubbed Louis, for my apartment. So far, owning a rabbit has been a very enjoyable experience.

Although someday I would like a dog, a rabbit has been a perfect college pet for me. They are very low maintenance, only need to be let out a few times a day for exercise in which you can sit on your couch while they run around the living room until they tire themselves out. They even train themselves to use a litterbox.

I have had to change a couple things about my life and daily routine to accommodate the rabbit, but overall I would say that it has been a very positive experience. I would definitely recommend a pet for college students, but I would encourage everyone to take a critical look at whether or not they can deal with the negative aspects of pet ownership in order to enjoy the positive.

Larry Philbin is the News Editor of The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].