Adopting a dog in college: Not a good idea for the average college students

Dogs are like your best buddies. When you feel lonely, they are always there to keep you company. When you are depressed, they will cheer you up. As college students, we face a lot of stresses, and having a dog seems like a good way to release some of those stresses. I used to have the same opinion. In fact, my roommate and I almost adopted a dog in our sophomore year. However, before we actually drove to the shelter and picked up the cutest puppy that we could find, we sat down and had a discussion about raising a dog. We came up with the conclusion: as college students, it’s best for us to not have a dog.

“Dogs are a lot of work and most students can barely take care of themselves, much less a dog,” said sophomore Mary Mutter, a communication studies major and dog owner at Virginia Tech.

Raising a dog can be expensive. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the first year of dog ownership will cost from $1,314 to $1,843 depending on the size and breed of the dog. This includes one-time expenses such as spaying, neutering, training, initial medical fees and a crate. After the first year, the annual cost could range from $580 for smaller dogs to $875 for larger breeds, which require more food. In addition to the normal costs, there may also be unexpected medical bills.

A large number of college students are highly financially unstable. They just became college students and are not yet used to managing their own money. In addition, many college students are burdened by student loan debt. According to Student Loan Hero, the average class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt. Students need to understand and consider these associated expenses carefully before they decide to adopt a dog.

Dogs take up a lot of time. Dog owners need to feed their dogs, walk their dogs and play with their dogs. After school work, social life and extracurricular activities, there is little room left for them to spend time with their dogs. College students also have to consider who will care for the dogs during the breaks if they cannot do it themselves. Dogs require a large amount of time that many college students simply do not have.

“I skip events and other things to spend time with my dog. I don’t think it’s fair for her to be put away alone all day,” Mutter said.

Many colleges prohibit students from housing pets while they are living on campus. This may sound unfriendly to animals, but it is a way for the colleges to protect students who are allergic, and to avoid situations where these pets are not getting proper care. Therefore, you would have to live off campus if you want to raise a dog. In that case, it is absolutely necessary to make sure your roommates agree on owning a pet; if your dog accidently damages your roommates’ property, it may also create conflict between you and your roommates.

Students have to make a long-term commitment to their dogs. This commitment should not break after your graduation, because dogs are not merely a support system to help you get through your four years in college. Dogs are living creatures, and they are not objects that you can throw away when you no longer want them. Dogs should be treated as a family member once you adopt them. They deserve to be loved and to be taken care of.

“”Pets require lots of time, money, and a commitment to providing a lifelong home for the animal — which can be 15 years or more,” said Nancy Peterson, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) cat programs manager, in a written statement on the HSUS website. “Students need to consider whether it’s the best time in their life to get a pet or whether they can wait a few years.”

Some college students think they are saving animals when they adopt them from a shelter. Sadly, many college students are not ready to make that commitment. According to HSUS, animal shelters located near colleges find that some students may abandon their pets when their pets are no longer convenient, especially during the end of semester. If you are not willing to make the commitment, the best option is not to adopt a dog in the first place.

Marilyn Wheaton, volunteer and education coordinator for the Montgomery County Animal Shelter, said the shelter has experienced an overflow of dogs in the past.

“Usually we’re okay with the population,” Wheaton said, “occasionally we do get really overrun, but we do have times at the current facility where we are overflowing with dogs.”

If you have a pet, you should give it all your love and accept it as part of your family. Because of the lack of expenses, time and ability to make a commitment, adopting a dog can be hard for college students. Quite frankly, the best option for college students is to focus on studying and taking care of themselves rather than adopting a dog. College students who are thinking about adopting should first consider whether or not they are ready to have a pet.