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If you realize your wallet doesn’t approve or the fit isn’t quite right, you can easily return the pair of Jimmy Choos bought in a moments impulse. Returning a puppy or cat that doesn’t quite fit with your life, however, isn’t quite as easy. It’s essential to understand the benefits and disadvantages of parenting a fur baby if considering a pet — especially during college life.
As a certified veterinary technician, I have witnessed varying levels of pet care and companionship. Students need to understand the decade or longer commitment required for owning a pet before taking home a free kitten or buying a puppy to parade on the Hill.
If you think you want a pet, don’t approach it as something that can be undone if it doesn’t work out. Animals deserve your commitment. Consider the following suggestions.
Don’t get your pet on impulse! Take time to evaluate the responsibilities of caring for an animal and learn what kind of pet, if any, is appropriate for you. A mismatched pet can create problems that lead to you and your pet’s unhappiness. Major decisions require contemplation and reflection to provide insight and clarity, which is often lost in haste.
Animals cost more than their food and toys. Food and preventative care such as vaccines and parasite medication can be budgeted into an income, but an emergency could happen at any time. A case I experienced as a vet-tech was a gastrointestinal obstruction caused by an unwatched puppy that swallowed a sock and required thousands of dollars for a life saving surgery. Fortunately that puppy survived, but I also experienced cases that resulted in a pet’s euthanasia because the owners couldn’t afford the medical expenses for their sick animal.
Life’s adventures are limited when your furry friend is tagging along. The feeling of wanting to be with your pet at all times is mutual. However, opportunities may arise that don’t include your fur baby. Usually pets can’t accompany us at internships or trips abroad. Having a pet could mean sacrificing career opportunities and the ability to travel at will, but relinquishment for these reasons is irresponsible and unfair.
Roommates will become your pet’s family too. Living in a house full of animal lovers is an ideal situation because your pet will get attention all day as your roommates come and go. However, if the house environment isn’t right, animals can develop inappropriate behaviors from stress and anxieties. Also, training doesn’t end at housebreaking. Behavior training can be lost with inconsistencies amongst roommates or with those who are unsupportive in pet care. Make sure you communicate you and your pet’s needs during the search for roommates or as they change.
Get your fix by working with animals. If you decide the time is not right to get a pet but are in need of an animal fix, the Boulder Humane Society always needs volunteers to hang out and give love to animals.
In order to get a second opinion on whether students should adopt, I spoke with Boulder Humane Society’s Dr. Lesli Groshong. In her 18 years of experience, she has seen that students can be great pet parents but ultimately it depends on the individual circumstances. However, I say, don’t get a pet while in college. Take time to figure out your life before you have responsibility for another – your future furry companion will thank you.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Amy Moore-Shipley at Amy.email@example.com.