For many students, the chance to adopt or purchase a pet is exciting. However, students sometimes can get overwhelmed once they realize how expensive and time consuming pet ownership is.
Logan Welch, a senior human development and family studies major from Hamilton, said she contemplated getting a dog for a year before finally making the decision. She understood what a serious responsibility it is.
“It is basically like taking care of a toddler,” she said. “They whine, they cry. You can’t just leave him in the bathroom with no food and no water because you don’t want to deal with him using the bathroom in the house. You have to get him kennel training and you have to get him the kennel, which is also a lot of money.”
She spends at least $500 on her dog, Scamp, each year, she said. Vaccinations, grooming, toys and dog food are all expenses that drive up this bill.
When Welch first got Scamp, she said she had to spend a substantial amount of money and time getting rid of his fleas. Now, she recommends students adopt pets from the animal shelter because it ends up being less expensive.
“If people ever want animals I tell them to go to shelters because they have all ages from puppies to seniors and their first round of shots are all up-to-date,” she said. “So, if you go to a shelter and you pay that $120 or $160. They have all their shots, they’re neutered or spayed. And so, you’re basically getting a puppy for free compared to how much I had to pay over the past few years.”
However, after the holidays, the South Plains Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals usually sees a high rise in animal returns, Madison Luscombe, a Lubbock SPCA worker and recent Tech graduate, said.
In fact, anytime students travel — as they often do during the holiday season — animal care can become the second priority because students do not work their schedules around caring for their pets, Luscombe said.
Welch, on the other hand, said she makes sure to plan her schedule around caring for Scamp.
“I revolve my day around him,” she said. “So, if I work eight-hour shifts, I have to go home during my lunch break because I’m not going to make him stay inside for eight, nine hours. I also don’t have long school days because first thing I do when I wake up is take him out and the first thing I do when I get home is take him out. So, if you like to go out a lot, you’re not going to want a dog.”
If adoption is too much of a commitment, students can choose to foster instead. Kim Funk, a senior media strategies major from Austin, said she fostered two dogs for a while. However, she ended up adopting the dogs she fostered.
Funk said she did not plan financially when she got her first two dogs, but knew she wanted a dog while in college as early as her sophomore year.
“I am lucky enough that my parents support me financially,” she said, “with the exception that I am responsible for my animals and have two different jobs to take care of them properly.”
Welch said because her dog is a registered emotional support animal she does not have to pay a fee for him to live with her in her apartment complex, which decreases the price of owning a dog. However, other students might have to pay an initial deposit and a monthly fee.
“The Ranch is pretty cheap compared to most places,” she said. “You have to do an initial $200 down payment and then an extra $25 is added to your rent.”
According to University Student Housing’s website, the only animals allowed to live on campus are registered guide dogs or similar disability animals approved through the University Student Housing staff.
However, before adopting a dog, Luscombe said college students should be cognizant of several things. They need to make sure they can afford the pet, make sure they have a plan for vacation or dog sitters and make sure they are ready for the responsibility of owning a pet.
“Go to a shelter,” Welch said. “Go to the Humane Society. Do your research. Before you do anything, do your research.”
Kailin George contributed to this story.