Monday, July 14, 2014

Pet Friendly College. Sounds Like A Great Hook For Enrollment, But Is It Best For Pets?

My first response to the article about Lees-McRae College providing pet friendly dorms and allowing staff and students to bring their pets to class was....If I had heard of this when I was shopping for a college I would have been heavily swayed. If this is a hook for attracting students I would have bitten and been hard pressed for a reason NOT to go there. But, here’s where my parents would have chimed in, (and now me as the old lady that I have become). They would have reminded me that going to college is a full time job where, hopefully, I would be trying to manage classes, a social life, and a pet. Do I really think that I can do all of this?


Who do you think would get the short end of that stick 9 times out of 10?

Here is where the vet, and been around the block a few times old lady chimes in. Kids are still kids, even in college. It’s a period of transition and the fewer lives that these kids need to be responsible for the better. I also am deeply concerned about the financial commitment and strain that a pet places on anyone, in particular an already cash strapped college student.

I spent fifteen years in a college town. The burden on the local humane society, veterinarians, and rescues was compounded by the end of the year dog and cat dump as kids left for their summer break. The rest of the school year was a musical chair of rotating cats and dogs in and out of shelters as college kids adopted pets, with the best of intentions, only to surrender them when the dorm or landlord found out an extra illegal inhabitant was squatting in the kid’s room.

Here is my own,
  "Why college kids shouldn't adopt a pet story."

There are also other issues of concern. The safety and well-being of other students. Most pets are protective of their space and the dynamic rambunctious environment of a dorm is likely to be too much for many pets. Dogs large and small become territorial and can become fearful or anxious or even stressed with the high traffic volume and noise of a dorm. The responsibility of kids to keep doors closed, thereby keeping cats and dogs in their rooms, and the accidents that will and do happen anyway can be exacerbated with high energy chaotic lifestyles. I have a difficult time enough just trying to remind my husband to keep the doors shut so the cats don't escape. Cats can and do become ill with stress, dogs fearful and anxious, and behavioral and medical problems are more likely to be uncovered, complicated, and more difficult to resolve simply due to the nature of a college environment.

So here are my thoughts on this, I'm interested in yours.

  • What do you think about college kids having pets?

  • What do you think is in the pets’ best interest?
  • How would having a pet in college have changed your college experience?

  • Do you have a story about a pet that became your responsibility because the original parent wasn't quite prepared to take full responsibility of a pet?

To learn more about Lees-McRae College please visit their website here.

To learn more about their pet policy please visit here.

Think a cat, dog, fish, or hamster is the ideal college pet?
I would vote PIG!
(Although post a sign about fingers and food...sometimes they can't distinguish them clearly).

If you have a pet question, or would like to share your pet experiences, you can find  me and a whole community of fellow pet enthusiasts at Pawbly is free to use and open to everyone who loves animals!

Or you can find me in person at Jarrettsville Vet, or on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you on all points. My old lady voice kicked in when I saw the title of your story and I said, "This idea can only lead to trouble." My pet roommate when I was in college (in the dark ages) was a parakeet. Perky talked to me (O.K. he could only say 'pretty bird'), but he was good company, he walked on the back of my couch while I studied at night and we shared many meals together. He was small, portable and if he had his mirror, he didn't mind being left alone while I was at class. Thanks for sharing your thought and the story.

    1. Hello!
      Many thanks for reading and for adding your college pet story..I have to say it gave me a great chuckle..birds are great companions and yes, very little upkeep for those times we have to study, go to class, or even want to spend a few hours with friends, as long as people understand that they are a long term commitment..and the note about giving him a mirror so that he didn't feel alone is hilarious!

      Many Thanks for stopping by,