Vet students, undergraduates balance pets with school
As students enter college, they also find opportunities to take part in adult activities — like adopting pets. For some UC Davis students, adopting pets serves as a way to focus their attention on something other than school.
“My housemates and I wanted a dog for company and also […] for therapy,” said Vyvy Ha, third-year evolution, ecology and biodiversity major and owner of a 6-year-old rescue dog named Lexi. “College is stressful, and dogs eliminate stress because they’re so cute and fluffy.”
Many UC Davis students adopt pets for various reasons, including mental health and comfort. Having pets also encourages physical health, since animals need exercise too. Students find that especially during exam season, getting out of the house with an animal is a great way to stay active. However, owning a pet can, at times, be a struggle to balance.
“It’s definitely a little bit difficult sometimes to make sure that [my dog] gets walked every day and has exercise, especially when it’s the middle of the quarter and midterms and essays are piling up,” said Kelsey Clausen, fifth-year psychology major and dog owner. “But it’s not hard to try and find 10 minutes at least to take her out.”
Students in search of a furry friends had the chance to adopt a pet of their choice on Oct. 23 when a group of UC Davis veterinary students collaborated with 20 different animal shelters to put on its annual animal adopt-a-thon. The event, which took place at Davis Central Park, included an Animal Health Fair as well as animal demonstrations such as agility races and frisbee competitions.
“I had such a great team of volunteers and people to help me out,” said Katie Krebs, third-year veterinary student and project director for the event. “Seeing […] the enthusiasm of the volunteers, […] the rescue organizations and the people coming out to learn […] makes it an awarding event.”
The project was funded by a grant from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), which holds an application process each year for projects, seven of which are chosen for the grant. AVMF has funded the adopt-a-thon project for the last three years.
“Being able to spread awareness is super rewarding,” Krebs said. “Companies like [AVMF and Banfield Pet Hospital] make it possible for us to do these things.”
The event allowed animals of all kinds, including dogs, cats, parrots and more, to come and enjoy services such as the free veterinary clinic, which gave free health checkups and vaccinations. At the Animal Health Fair, many of the veterinary school clubs presented different health topics from microchipping to household items hazardous to pets.
“We were hoping to […] spread awareness about […] animals, and make it a little easier for people to adopt an animal,” Krebs said. “[Adoption is] a way animals get a new lease on life.”
Yolo County is home to a number of pet adoption shelters, including the Yolo County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). The SPCA hosts adoption events on Saturdays at the PETCO on West Covell Blvd in North Davis. Some students live in housing where animals are not allowed, while others live in pet-friendly environments. Even though some people live with housemates who are willing to take turns with animal care, there are often still times when no one is home.
“Making sure that someone’s home with [Lexi] to […] take her out once in awhile [can be challenging], and my schedule is pretty busy this quarter,” Ha said.
To solve this problem, the veterinary school at UC Davis allows students to take their pets to class with them, which gives students the opportunity to exercise and spend time with their pets while at school. On days when she has a heavy schedule, Krebs brings both of her rescue labrador-mixed dogs to school.
“Being able to bring them to school gives me the peace of mind,” Krebs said. “When I tell my older dog we’re going to school in the morning, she gets so excited. I couldn’t imagine being in vet school without [both of] them.”
In particular, many students have animals for mental and emotional support. Similar to the “therapy fluffy” events that are held on campus, pets often provide personal comfort in times of stress.
“Whenever I’m having a bad day, I’ll just pick […] up [my cat] and cuddle with her,” said Lindsay Hedgecock, fourth-year community and regional development major. “She’s super sweet.”
Despite the challenges that balancing schoolwork and a pet can pose, animal adoption can be overall beneficial to both the owners and the animals. Students can return from school to see a rescued furry friend, but more importantly, the animals find loving homes.
“I’m a dog person. I’ve had a lot of dogs growing up,” Clausen said. “I love [that] they cuddle up with you and then they fall asleep and snore — it’s so cute.”
Written by: Allyson Tsuji — firstname.lastname@example.org