Cute pets don’t necessarily fit the student lifestyle

Graphic by Fani Hsieh
Graphic by Fani Hsieh

Having a pet during university can be a great experience. Being greeted by a friendly puppy can make your day better. If you prefer scaly types, putting a party hat on your snake can make for a great Instagram post.

Pets can also be a source of comfort and happiness. Miriam Hewson, a third-year English major at Wilfrid Laurier University has a pet lizard, affectionately known as Duke Sneklemort the Third or Snek for short.

“He’s got way more personality than you’d expect from a lizard. He can be a real brat, which is hilarious to watch,” said Hewson.

Pet care is not always rainbows and butterflies. Owning a pet can be time consuming and expensive, two things students struggle with. There is also plenty of maintenance that goes into having a pet from grooming, training and cleaning its living area.

Kyla Godin, a dog coordinator from the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society, highlighted the responsibilities that come with being a pet parent. Students should be aware that pets are not a short-term purchase. When someone is buying a pet, the first thing they should ask themselves is if they are ready for the commitment.

“Many people often forget how long an animal can live for,” Godin said.

Many have probably experienced the heart-melting feeling of making eye contact with a cute animal and instantly wanting to take it home with them. This can be a huge mistake, as Godin explains. People who pick an animal based on its looks rather than the personality may find out this animal does not fit in with their lifestyle.

It is suggested that anyone looking for a pet should do research about the animal to find out if it is a good match for them. Godin suggests sites like Animal Planet to tell you about the traits of the certain breed of dog that you are looking into.

Another way to gather more information about a possible pet is to go to your local humane society or any breeders in your local area. They can answer any questions you may have about the animal and how to best take care of it.

An idea that anyone should take into consideration before deciding on a pet is the associated cost.

For many university students who already find themselves on a tight budget, a pet can add more stress to their finances.

Equipment like toys, harnesses and possible habitats can also add to the costs of having a pet.

“Food is very expensive and they can go through it very very quickly depending on what brand you’re using,” said Godin, when asked about additional costs of a pet.

“Biggest thing is to make sure that your roommates are on board,” said Godin.

Make sure that everyone is comfortable with having an animal in the house. Godin recommends that before you adopt, have some idea of who will be doing what for the pet and be clear who the primary caretaker will be.

If you like the idea of having an animal around but are not sure of the commitment that is involved is for you, the K-W Humane Society may have some options for you.

“The Animal Fostering Program is designed to put either recovering animals or underage kittens into foster homes,” said Godin.

The foster volunteers can care for the animals in their own homes while the K-W Humane society supplies all the food, vet checks and vaccines until the animal is ready for adoption. The K-W Humane Society will match a volunteer to an animal that suits the volunteer’s lifestyle.

Volunteering at the K-W Humane Society offers other options for those who want to interact with animals, but are not sure about committing to pet ownership. One of the programs is play therapy, which allows volunteers to come in and provide the animals with the daily attention required.

Other programs include the Tender Loving Care Program, which is designed for more shy cats who have yet to come out of their shell and the Canine Companions, where volunteers can come in and walk dogs.

Pets can be wonderful additions to a person’s life. However, it is important to remember that adopting a pet is not like buying the latest fashion or electronic from the store. A pet is a living thing that requires time, care and effort, just like you or I.

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