Pets And College: A Good Or Bad Combo?

Dogs, cats, snakes, rabbits, fish, birds, lizards, hamsters; whatever pet it may be, there’s no doubt that people get very attached to their animal friends.

Since most students live in the dorms their first year, bringing a pet along isn’t usually an option; but the next year when students start living in off-campus housing, one question to consider is whether or not bringing their pet is a good idea.

Let’s take this from my perspective. This school year I moved into an apartment for the first time with three other roommates, and all but one of us brought our pets along for the ride: one roommate with her small Yorkie dog, one with an energetic Australian Shepherd, and me with my two cats.

My cats had never been around other dogs and the dogs had never been around cats, so the first couple weeks were rough. The cats and dogs always had to be separated and we had to designate certain times for when the animals could be out in the living room area.

This quickly became a pain when I realized I could never have my bedroom door open for the fear that one of the dogs would come in the room and terrorize my cats. I assumed everyone would start getting along after a couple weeks, but those weeks turned into months with no improvement. The tension between the animals quickly transferred to my roommates and I, with all of us constantly arguing about which pet did this or that.

I could see the friendships with my roommates slowly dwindling, so I had to make the rash decision to take my cats back home to my mom’s house and my roommate with the Australian Shepherd put her dog up for adoption. We’re now down to just the Yorkie and things have been running much smoother ever since.

So what am I trying to say here with my story? Well, first I realized that no matter how much I love my cats, it wasn’t worth losing friendships just to have them at school with me. Making sure your roommates are okay with pets is the first thing you must determine. Although you might get angry if they say no, they probably have a good reason why.

Many people are allergic to animals (especially cats!), so they might be concerned about allergies. Also, the habitat of living in a college apartment or house is much different than at your parent’s house. With animals, it’s hard to always have friends over and you can’t throw big parties unless you take the animals elsewhere.

Because you’re in college and students’ main goal on the weekend is usually partying, this might create problems with roommates. Another problem that many students run into (mostly with dogs or birds) is noise–barking dogs and chirping birds doesn’t go over too well with neighbors and roommates.

You also should ask yourself if the habitat is suitable for your pet. Most dogs need to be outside running and getting exercise, which isn’t always attainable with student housing. It’s not necessarily fair to have a dog locked up in an apartment all day when it should be outside getting rid of energy. So if you have a dog but won’t be able to take it out or on walks often, you might want to reconsider bringing it.

Having an animal can take up a lot of your free time, which students have a hard time giving up. This is why my roommate gave her dog up for adoption. Since her dog was extremely high energy, my roommate was constantly taking her on walks and going to the dog park. With all of her free time devoted to her dog, her grades started dropping and she was constantly stressed out from never being able to relax.

Although it seems a little crazy that bad grades and stress can come from having a pet, it definitely plays a factor. And what if you live alone? If so, you will need to devote even more extra time because without roommates to help you out, you’ll always have to be the one to keep an eye on the animal(s).

At initial thought, having your pet with you at school might sound like a perfect idea. I won’t lie–whenever I was stressed it was great having my cats there to hold and cuddle when I needed to relax. And although pets are fun and people always get excited when pets are around, they can easily be a lot of extra work. Is this really what you need on top of your already-busy school schedule?

Before packing your furry friend’s bags, talk to your roommates and weigh the pros and cons. You need to make sure everyone is on the same page and is 100% okay with animals. If not, problems will result and it’s usually never worth breaking a friendship over.

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Jordyn Timpson

Jordyn Timpson

Jordyn Timpson is a junior at Michigan State University working towards her journalism degree with a specialization in documentary film. She designs and writes for a campus magazine and is a server at Bob Evans. When Jordyn has free time she likes to watch movies and her favorite show Breaking Bad, spend hours on tumblr, go on adventures with friends and travel.
Jordyn Timpson

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