From active athletes to homebodies, people and their pets come in a variety of lifestyles. College students are often busy individuals managing school, work, maintaining their social lives and for some students taking care of a smaller and furrier friend.
Lubbock Animal Shelter (LAS) associate Steven Greene said taking on a pet is a big responsibility and it is important that students consider their lifestyle before committing to an animal.
“You need to think about everything instead of just seeing a cute little posing face that you want to take home. There’s a lot of responsibility,” Greene said. “You have some animals that are very energetic and need a lot of exercise whether it’s jogging or walking. Other older pets may not need as much exercise. So if you’re really athletic, you may want to have an animal that fits your lifestyle.”
While the LAS takes in many types of animals they primarily work with dogs and cats. Greene said in the last year the shelter took in over 8000 animals and about half of those were adopted locally and the rest were transported to other states to be adopted there.
Senior biology major from San Antonio, Jesse Toon adopted his dog, Kayden from the animal shelter said the responsibility of having a pet is actually motivating.
“College can be hard especially if you work and go to school full time like I do, but having Kayden really motivates me to stay strong, and if I’m stressed out or having a hard day, I know I have a best friend to come home to and I couldn’t ask for a better companion,” Toon said.
Greene said being around animals can be therapeutic and simply petting one can release positive endorphins.
Ariel Henson, a junior speech language and hearing sciences major from Amarillo works as a Community Advisor on campus. Henson said she lives on campus with her cat which is registered as a Emotional Support Animal (ESA) which helps with stress and anxiety.
“Having her around really just helps when I’m stressed out about a test or like there’s a lot of stuff going on in CA world because of course a lot of stuff happens in the dorms,” Henson said. “So it’s just nice having this little calming influence around, like she doesn’t care about tests she just cares about getting her next treat.”
Greene said that being a pet parent is a full time responsibility and between food and veterinary visits there are financial responsibilities that some students may not be prepared to take on. Base veterinary costs can be roughly $100 a year and depending on the size of the animal food can be upwards of $40 a month, he said.
With the addition of registering an animal as an ESA, that can add hundreds of dollars on top of typical pet costs. Owning a pet is not temporary, Henson said, this is why it is so important for those considering adopting to find the right pet for them.
“I had to think about the fact that I wouldn’t be able to walk a dog as much as they’d want to and the dog would probably be in a cramped space. That’s why I got a cat instead, because she’s really good in small spaces,” Henson said. “Just make sure that you’re giving them the best quality of life possible.”
Greene said a good pet owner is one willing to return the unconditional love that pets give their owners, someone willing to commit their time, energy, money and comply with the rules and regulations of the city.
Students who find themselves desiring that connection with animals but cannot afford the responsibility still have opportunities in the community, Greene said. Students are the largest volunteer group at the shelter, with opportunities to walk and play with the animals before they find their forever home.