It feels as if everywhere you turn, you hear about an animal shelter closing or see a new puppy in your friend’s house. Nothing can melt a heart more than seeing a 4-month-old puppy trip awkwardly over its big feet. But nothing can break a heart faster than seeing a homeless or sick animal. Many people, including myself, miss their pets from home. I cannot tell you how much I would pay to have my “puppy,” a 9-year-old weimaraner named Sammy, here at school. Unfortunately, he is not the lap dog he thinks he is. He weighs 80 pounds and like many dogs, Sammy requires attention, food, a daily walk and a lot of couch space. None of those things are completed or obtained easily when you add in a college lifestyle.
We are all guilty of begging for an animal, and most parents have heard the “I’ll walk it and I’ll feed it” speech. Even though we promised and begged, it is obvious that for the most part our parents took care of the pet. As college students, our priority should be school. We need to focus on homework, study for our tests and fulfill our extracurricular requirements. Our busy schedules cause stress, and most of us would rather watch some TV and relax instead of picking up a pet’s messes. It is true that some people are willing to sacrifice their free time for their beloved pets. But they wanted the pet, and they should not expect their roommates to help with the responsibility.
Bringing a new pet into a college home is unfair to both the roommate and the animal. A college house typically has people coming and going at all times. The increased attention and then sudden disappearance of attention is overwhelming. Many animals are purchased on a whim. Some of the animals purchased from friends of friends do not have shot records. It is easy for us to be irresponsible and have a sick pet without ever knowing it. Once the health issue surfaces, it seems as though the pet is easier to give away than to nurse back to health. Many pets that are given away end up in shelters, and as these shelters begin to close, the pets have a greater chance of being euthanized.
Pets are lovable and a lot of fun, but we are supposed to focus on taking care of ourselves first and foremost. A pet can be seen as a child, and many of us are not ready to take on the responsibility. Think before you decide to bring pets into your college home. But if you decide to, give them love and attention because they certainly are a part of the family.
Allison Branca is a sophomore strategic communications major from Houston.