Some college students’ best friends come in many different forms — from large and four-legged to small and feathered, all the way down to creepy and crawly.
Many students have taken in pets to keep them company on those cold, lonely nights of studying. The pets that students adopt can have a major impact on their lives financially, but can also offer a sense of security along with companionship.
Fifth-year senior civil engineering major Jacqueline Morino said while her dog, a Shiba Inu named Boogie, changed her life, she can’t imagine it now without him.
“I probably put more time aside to play with him or give him attention than I would have if I didn’t have him, but I can’t imagine it without him now. Whether he’s sleeping, playing with his toy, eating or even just chilling with me, I love the company,” Morino said.
While going through school at UC Davis, alumna Barbara Thayer, who earned her degree in mathematics in 2010, had two cats, two rats and some fish. She said having pets in college presents both positive and negative challenges.
“When you split your attention between a part-time job and full-time school, having enough time to play with animals can be difficult. On the other hand they are amazing stress relief,” Thayer said.
Senior English major Brittany Horrell agreed with Thayer, and admitted she doesn’t always have the time her Chihuahua and kitten deserve.
“I have to take my dog, Phoebe, for walks so she can go to the bathroom, and sometimes it’s frustrating that she wants to play and I’m late for work or have to study. It isn’t fair to her, though; it isn’t her fault,” Horrell said.
Senior animal science major Cali Nguyen, who owns two cats, one Colombian Boa and a few fire-bellied newts said there can sometimes be another challenge attached to her beloved pets.
“The biggest challenge would be my previous roommates being afraid of my snakes,” Nguyen said.
These challenges, however, don’t allude to the financial challenges that may be presented by owning a pet.
For Thayer, it isn’t the maintenance, but the start-up cost that can cause some trouble for pet owners.
“Depending on where you get your pet, you have to pay for the pet, their shots and to get them fixed for an initial cost. Their upkeep is spaced evenly throughout the month except for yearly checkups and a pet deposit,” Thayer said.
Morino agreed with Thayer that the monthly financial obligation is nothing compared to the initial costs.
“In the beginning it was hard because that’s when he needed all these shots and heart worm pills and stuff, plus all the initial necessities like food, treats and toys,” Morino said. “But now it’s fine, not too bad. Just a couple bucks here and there.”
Thayer also added that you may come across some unexpected expenses that can be difficult for students to manage.
“I’ve been extremely lucky with my cats because I have had very little problems with them financially. My roommate’s cat broke his leg and she had to pay $2,000 to have it fixed. Ok, her parents paid $2,000 and she paid them back,” Thayer said.
Then, there are the commitments many students don’t think about when adopting a four-legged friend, like potty-training. Morino said one of her biggest challenges is her dog having accidents in the apartment when she’s not there.
“Also, he’ll rip up cardboard and get into the garbage. This has happened about six times and coming home and having to clean it gets annoying,” Morino said.
Then comes the challenge of finding an apartment to house all of your pets. While some gladly accept your furry friends, others aren’t so kind.
The 2011-12 Residence Hall Contract states that students living in on-campus residence halls are not allowed to bring pets of any kind, except a fish tank that does not exceed 10 gallons. Requests to bring a fish tank must be approved by UC Davis Student Housing and all roommates prior to set-up.
According to Nguyen, finding a place that allows pets isn’t difficult, but most will ask pet owners to pay a special fee.
Many of the Tandem properties in Davis differ in their pet policies, and may leave students less than satisfied when trying to find a place to live with their pets. According to the Tandem properties website, many of the complexes, including Adobe, Cranbrook and the Willows, don’t allow dogs.
These complexes do, however, allow cats, fish, and small caged animals. Cranbrook also has a “no snake” policy in place and limits aquariums to 25 pounds.
Students could also encounter extra fees for these apartments if they want to bring their pets along to college. Davis Wiki has a list of many apartments’ pet policies and deposit amounts.
Ellington, for example, charges a $200 deposit for the first pet, and $100 deposit for the second pet, along with $35 a month per dog and $15 a month per cat.
The Arbors, on the other hand, allows cats with a pet deposit of $250 and dogs with a deposit of $500, and charge no monthly rent for pets.
MICHELLE STAUFFER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.