When people think of owning a pet in college, they often think of what it will be like to have a four-legged companion to snuggle with at night. However, they may not consider just how much time and money really goes into owning a pet.
Kaitlyn Shivers, a junior animal science and psychology major from Frisco, said she got two dogs within a month of each other halfway through her sophomore year. She wanted to wait until she was out of the residence halls and adjusted to living by herself.
“My first was a birthday present that I rescued at the Dallas Animal Shelter and the second was too cute not to have. I got my second dog from a girl that I knew that was fostering him,” she said. “His mother had been killed when he was only 3 weeks old, so a Wisconsin-based shelter adopted him and had someone foster him until he could be shipped there. I ended up finding out about him only a couple days before he was supposed to be shipped and jumped on adopting him.”
Shivers has been surrounded by dogs her entire life, but said her favorite was a German shepherd named Ranger. After having to put him down the December of her sophomore year, she said she was depressed and lonely at the thought of not having a dog around. However, she said her girlfriend surprised her by taking her to the shelter on her birthday to get a new dog of her own.
Although her dogs are crazy and hectic, Shivers said they help a lot with de-stressing and relaxing, mostly by their cuddles and company.
“It’s a huge adjustment of caring for yourself to adding two babies that depend on you for everything,” she said. “It is hard having dogs in college but if you learn how to add them to your balanced life, they can be more than worth it.”
Shivers said she likes to make sure her dogs stay active. She usually takes them to a dog park every weekend, even if only for an hour or two, so that they can get out all of their energy. Going to the dog park helps wear the dogs out so they do not run through the house.
Shivers lives in Dallas and drives home at least once a month, she said, so she bought a car seat cover for them that makes traveling easy.
“They both do well in the car, so it does not ever bother me bringing them back,” she said.
Caitlin Hureau, a sophomore from Dallas on the pre-nursing track, said she got her dog from the animal shelter in Lubbock during her second semester of college. She has had her for a little over six months.
When it comes to money, Hureau said it is not hard taking care of her dog because she adopted the dog with her roommate, making it easier to budget for food and other essentials because they share the expenses.
However, it gets harder to manage a pet when finals come around, Hureau said.
“(Balancing) grades and a social life and taking care of a pet … gets very hectic in the end of the semester,” she said.
As far as exercise goes, Hureau said both she and her roommate take the dog on walks around their apartment complex. Sometimes they take her to the park so they can let her off the leash and run around.
Ansleigh Brister, a sophomore personal financial planning major and a financial advocate for Red to Black, said she understands having a pet in college because students are on their own for the first time, so they get to decide whether they can have a pet rather than their parents.
However, she said she feels she would not be able to properly take care of that animal because she does not have the time.
“I’m fairly involved within my major and I also have classes, so I feel that unless it was it was a therapeutic animal, I wouldn’t be able to give it the proper care it needs to feel loved and a part of a home,” she said.
When a student takes adopting a pet into consideration, they do not always consider exactly how much it will cost, Brister said. If one is trying to budget to save money, having a pet in college can be an unnecessary expense.
Both unexpected and regular veterinary costs vary depending on the pet, but still can add up, as can other expenses like food and things like when pets tear up furniture or other items around the dorm or apartment, she said. Not only are monetary expenses a cause for concern, but time expenses also can take a toll on students when owning a pet.
“You need to care for that animal, properly train them, and doing those sorts of things can take up time that could be spent doing something more important while you’re in college like studying or doing homework,” Brister said. “If you have the time to delegate time to both studying and for pets, then good on you.”
Ultimately, having a pet in college is all based on one’s mindset, Brister said.
“Sure, pets can be expensive and high-maintenance, but if you feel like having that companion, especially in college when things are constantly changing, outweigh the cost of maintaining that animal, go get yourself a pet,” she said. “However, if you feel like you can find that joy in other aspects of your life, don’t go get a pet.”