Students should think before getting pets

McKenna Peariso

As the summer winds down and students return to campus they are also bringing along some of their furry friends. Students are beginning to bring their cats, dogs, bunnies and other animals to their pet-friendly off-campus apartments. But are these students ready to take on a responsibility that will likely span longer than their academic career?

Every year many students who decide to move off of Grand Valley’s campus become so enticed with their newfound freedom that they embark on adventures with a new furry friend. Some of these animals are family pets, others are adopted from nearby shelters and some are purebred presents. The upside to a family pet is there is another home that can take in the animal if the student finds they can not properly take care of it. The latter of the animals, however, do not have any option besides the shelter if their owner can’t take care of them. This is why students need to evaluate their choice to get a pet before diving into the endeavor. 

Being a student means juggling classes, homework, clubs and sometimes a job. Bringing an animal into that kind of environment can prove difficult to both the pet and the owner. Some student pet owners realize this difficulty and are quick to take their animal back to the shelter, or just give up on them entirely. 

Stray, forgotten animals currently roam the area of Allendale that surrounds Grand Valley’s campus. Cats can be seen darting through parking lots, lost dog posts can be found all over Facebook and even rabbits have been left outside to fend for themselves. 

Local shelters take care of animals until they are brought into new homes, but once the animals have left there is little they can do. Many shelters have also begun to do events like “Free Pet Adoption Days” and “Empty the Shelter Days” as a cheaper incentive to increase adoptions. Shelter hours have even been extended to accommodate working people and social media pages have been added to promote the animals still looking for homes.

While these are great measures to get  more animals adopted, it is not ensuring that these animals are going to quality homes. Regardless of student status, many pets are going into homes that aren’t prepared for the responsibility. These animals will often be returned within weeks with little to no explanation. 

Students should be made aware of the responsibilities that come with being a pet owner before bringing an animal home. This will help them be better prepared to take in an animal and also provides the pet with a forever home.