fter students move away and begin a new life in college, many might miss home cooked food or the comfort of their childhood bed. For some, however, the companionship of a furry friend helps make the move and transition to college a bit easier.
Through the constant hustle and bustle of the semester, having a pet can be like an ideal roommate, offering affection and friendship. According to Monica Dangler, director of PAWS Shelter and Humane Society, approximately 50 percent of the shelter’s adoptions are made by students. She said this is mainly because many had pets in their hometowns and want the same type of companionship in college.
For Janine Sultana, communication studies senior, her cat Purrcy offered just that. The one-year-old white feline, with yellow markings on his face and back and stripes on his tail, became a member of her family during the beginning of school last year. Purrcy was given to Sultana by a farm in Bastrop.
She describes him as “the most affectionate cat in the world who has bursts of energy.” His quirk is that he likes to shred paper, and he has even destroyed a textbook before. She said that her cat literally “ate her homework.”
“I’m an animal person,” Sultana said. “I didn’t have space for a dog, so I got a cat, and it has been great. It is especially great because I don’t have to come home to an empty house. I am welcomed every time.”
Sultana’s advice to those planning to own a cat in the future is to make sure the adoptee has enough time to care for the pet. Cats, though lower maintenance than dogs, still need a lot of attention, especially kittens. Pet owners have to take time and train them.
“Everybody is different,” Dangler said. “When I was that age, I wasn’t responsible enough to have a dog. But, cats do need a bunch of attention.”
Three years ago, theatre senior Renee Mize brought her new dog home from Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter in Georgetown. Tobi-Wan Kenobi, or Tobi for short, was a two-year-old abuse victim with parasites, fleas, ticks and aggressive tendencies. Today, Mize says he is the light of her life.
Tobi, a black and white Papillon and Sheltie mix with circles on his face and feet, is a large responsibility for Mize. She said that adopting him created a bond that would not have happened otherwise, but having a dog like Tobi is very expensive.
“I had to pay about $1,000 to get him healthy again,” Mize said. “And it took a few months to get him back on his feet. You have to be completely committed because if you go halfway and take it back, it hurts the animal even more.”
Along with the money and time required to own a dog, Mize added a person should make sure to have a balcony or some kind of outside space. She said dogs want to run around and feel free, and students should not have dogs in small apartments. Additionally, dogs require their owners to be home every few hours to take them outside and be able to feed them at the same time every day. Mize described owning her dog as “like having a child.”
Dangler said students interested in owning a pet should seriously consider how the animal would fit into their lifestyle before adopting. She said they should make sure they have enough time, money and the ability to take care of the pet for the rest of its life.
“We have a lot of students who adopt, and then they move and have to bring it back,” Dangler said. “This happens regularly. Being a responsible pet owner means you keep that pet for life.”