UMass Lowell students often talk about getting pets because although students are allowed to have fish, watching Bubbles swim in circles for hours on end can get pretty boring. Students joke about sneaking cats into the dorms (there have been students living in Riverview Suites who have successfully done it, according to rumors circulating around), but some are serious about getting a furry, four-legged friend to keep them company in their apartment but do not know how to go about doing this.
Before preparing to adopt an animal, students must take many factors into consideration such as whether or not they will have enough time to spend with their new pet, how their roommates, if they have any, feels about having an animal and if having a pet will work out for them even after they graduate college. Along with this, students must also consider the costs of having a pet such as buying food and veterinary expenses which as both hard to afford on a college budget. Professionals have their own views on college students and pets and whether or not the two are a good fit together.
Northeast Animal Shelter, located at 347 Highland Avenue in Salem, Mass., is the largest no-kill shelter in New England and a popular choice for Massachusetts residents when adopting pets. While they have a pretty standard process for animal adoptions, college students have a slightly different process to undergo, due to their hectic schedules and the hours of commitment a new pet needs, said Julie Whitney, Adoptions Supervisor at Northeast Animal Shelter.
According Whitney, Northeast’s adoptions supervisor, the first steps a student would have to take would be to ask their landlord for permission as well as check with their roommates to see if owning a pet would be okay with them as well.
Because college students have many classes through the day, the student would also be asked what their hours are like throughout the day and how much time they would have to spend with their new pet, she said. Plans upon graduation are very important as well, according to Whitney, because since many students move back in with their parents after graduating, making sure that bringing the pet home would be okay with their family is a must.
“Being a college student often involves an active social life,” says Whitney, “so it is very important to consider how much time you actually have to spend with a new pet.”
Much closer to home, The Lowell Humane Society, located just within walking distance from UMass Lowell’s South Campus at 951 Broadway Street, believes that students should choose pets suited for their lifestyle, that is if they even have time for a pet at all. “For instance, a puppy is not going to be a good idea for a single person that is gone 8-10 hours every day, but an adult cat or a pair of kitten might be a fine choice,” said a representative from the shelter over Facebook messenger. Because college students are still figuring out what they want to do with their lives and haven’t planted their roots yet, they must consider several factors including whether or not their apartment will even allow pets, something that the representative also touched upon by saying, “Students also tend to live a more transient lifestyle. They haven’t necessarily planted their roots yet…They need to consider whether or not their future home will allow for pets.”
A representative from Scituate Animal Shelter, located in Scituate, Mass., recommends that college students should not make the commitment of adopting an animal at all because of their schedules. “If your housing allows pets, fostering a cat/dog for a shelter can be extremely rewarding if you want a pet in your life but you don’t have a backup plan of what you would do if after college you don’t have housing that can allow you to have an animal.” According to the representative who was interviewed, at Scituate, many of the animals were given up because the owners, including many college students, cannot find places that allow pets, which is why they suggest that college students consider fostering an animal instead of making the commitment of adoption.