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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Think twice, think again when it comes to adding an animal to your home”

    I can’t imagine life without Bijou. I adopted the shepherd-shar pei mix last August, the week before my senior year of college began. My roommate and I moved out of our dorm in May and I whiled away the lonely, hot months alone in our apartment, longing for a fuzzy companion to curl up with. I found myself searching the Pet Finder and Humane Society Web sites often, looking for a little one to love. My family always had dogs, so I was naturally inclined to look for a puppy. After two years of staring at fish in the five-gallon tank our dorm room was allowed, I was ready to take the big step and become a real-live pet owner.

    For those of you looking for an animal love-bundle to start off the new school year, I’ve come up with tips to consider before buying or adopting.

    Tip 1

    Living situation. Are there any pet restrictions? Does your lease require a dog to be a one-year-old or older, or to weigh no more than 25 pounds? Only one dog or two cats allowed? You don’t want to adopt a pet, bring it home and find out you have to take it back. And don’t think you can hide your pet from your landlord, either. Cats will sit in windows and dogs have to go outside several times a day, though you might have better luck hiding a reptile, rodent or bird.

    Tip 2

    Cost of pet living. Not only do you have to fend for yourself on a college student budget, but a pet comes with a whole new set of expenses. If you get a dog or a cat, you may have to pay a pet deposit and rent. Then there are licensing fees and vaccinations. For all pets, big and small, you have to pay for food, bedding, accessories and toys. And don’t forget veterinarian fees those can get really expensive!

    Tip 3

    Time. What is your schedule like this semester? You shouldn’t leave a dog alone for more than eight hours a day, but you can probably get away with longer alone time for cats, rodents and reptiles. High-energy pets, like young dogs, need daily play and exercise. And what if you go away for the weekend? Or a week? Leaving your fish for spring break or driving them home for winter break can be fatal.

    Tip 4

    School isn’t year-round. What will you do with your pet over the summer? If your dad is allergic to cats or your sister is afraid of snakes, how will you handle taking your pets home? If you look inside one of the Fall 2008 Housing Guides, the first page you’ll see is a flyer from the Animal Welfare Alliance of Southern Arizona, showing a pitiful picture of an abandoned dog. There is a growing problem with students abandoning their pets after the semester ends, so if you purchase or adopt a pet for the school year, remember that the commitment you’ve made lasts beyond it – you’ve made a commitment for the duration of your pet’s life.

    On top of considering these things before your pet search, you may also want to talk to a veterinarian or someone at a pet store. Do your research, do the math and do some heavy thinking. Are you ready for pet ownership? If not, maybe you should wait a semester or a year. If you are ready, congratulations-and good luck!

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