Animal Lover and College Bound?

College brings big changes to a student’s life. It’s understandable that they will miss their parents, even though some will not openly admit it. However, many students also have a hard time being away from the family dog or cat, which they are quick to reveal to someone who is missing their companion animal too. Students are surrounded by people when they are on campus, but usually, there are no dogs or cats to fill the void.

When the absence of a four-legged buddy gets to be too much, some students decide it is time to do something about it. Many make the decision to get a companion animal even though they know it is against the rules.

Why are they banned?
There are good reasons why companion animals are not allowed in most dorms. High on the list is concern for those students who suffer allergies to dogs and cats. Another concern is the fact that a companion animal requires a commitment of time and money, two things students usually don’t have in abundance.  Often, acquiring a kitten or hamster may be an impulsive choice that the student later regrets – especially when made by freshmen who for the first time are exercising the freedom to make their own decisions.  Then, there is also the matter of what to do with the pet during school breaks. It is costly and hard on an animal to repeatedly travel by plane or to ride in a car for the long trip home.

Animal organizations close to college campuses report an increase in surrendered animals in June, when students are packing to go home. When mom or dad says they can’t bring their adopted cat home for the summer, some students think the solution is to let it roam the campus with the belief the cat can survive by catching birds and rodents. In fact, many of these cats end up being trapped by vector control companies hired by the college to rid the campus of strays. An additional concern is that non-spayed or neutered cats that roam free on campus will produce an ever-increasing number of unwanted kittens.

Pet-Friendly Campuses?
There are about a dozen colleges in the United States that recognize the benefit of having dogs and cats on campus, and have policies in place to make this arrangement fair for all students.  Washington and Jefferson College near Pittsburgh, PA, is one school that has adopted a pet-friendly policy. The administration has watched students acclimate to college more quickly when a restricted number of animals are allowed to live with the students. Having a dog or cat to love and hug during the unavoidable stressful periods of college life has proven beneficial.  Other campuses have found success in a policy that provides for a group of students to share responsibility for a companion animal rather than allowing an individual student to have their own companion animal. 

Our Advice and Alternative Options
SPCA International encourages college students to resist the urge to adopt an animal and instead consider a volunteer position at an animal shelter close to campus. Most organizations appreciate the help and being surrounded by animals on a regular basis may help to fill the void for some students. Another option is to inquire whether your college would allow a certain number of cats or kittens to be fostered by students in their dorm rooms until permanent homes can be found. This can help shelters while at the same time provide students with the companionship they miss so dearly.

This SPCA International article is intended to help further your understanding of your animal's needs. We understand yourunique bond with your pet and it is our pleasure to help you look after its welfare. Thanks to your continued support, SPCA International is able to provide you and countless others with important news regarding the safety of your pets. Thank you again for your donations – every little bit helps!
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