Opinion: College students plus pets equals negligence | Opinion
Let’s begin with a little storytime.
‘Twas a lively Friday night, and my roommate and I had plans to attend a friend’s birthday party. After choosing our outfits and frying off a few pieces of hair with a curling iron, we plugged Taylor Swift into the aux and drove off to our destination.
Upon arriving, the very first thing we noticed after opening the door of the house — besides the blaring music and loud voices — was a dog. What can only be described as the real-life version of Syd’s grandmother from the “Ice Age” quivered on the couch, a small thing of patchy fur and knobbly legs. We soon learned from the house owner that the chihuahua was blind and proceeded to watch it scuttle around the room, startled by loud noises and occasionally bumped into by unobservant party-goers.
After a few minutes, my roommate and I felt so bad for the dog that we became self-appointed guardians for the rest of the night, taking it outside to pee in silence and holding it in our arms to prevent it from being stepped on during the party.
As the night came to a close and we said our goodbyes, leaving the creature to fend for itself. I was left pondering a serious question:
Should college students own pets?
Back home, my beloved family dog has a strict daily routine that consists of two meals, two walks, playing outdoors, vitamin supplements and chasing squirrels. If these events don’t transpire, she either evolves into a living vacuum for any crumb of dropped food, waits by the door 24/7 to be let outside or anxiously follows us around the house until we realize something is wrong.
Living with her for 11 years has given me a great perspective on the duties of a dog owner and only furthers my worry for pets owned by people my age. Quite honestly, I don’t think this level of care is likely for people in our stage of life.
As a full-time student juggling classes with a job and a couple extracurriculars, I can just barely care for myself. Oftentimes my dinner is a single piece of toast — with peanut butter if I’m feeling fancy — and my room generally looks ravaged by a level-five tornado by the end of a busy week. House plants, even those known for being impossible to kill, turn yellow in my care.
I know I’m in no position to be in charge of any extra living thing — even a fish.
Though I can’t speak on the life habits of all students at Texas A&M, I know from conversations with friends and classmates that many of us are on the same boat — maybe not to the same embarrassing degree, but still busy with life and academics nonetheless.
Guaranteed, there are some students out there who do have their lives together. However, if I only ever witnessed these select individuals owning pets, I’d most likely have no grievances to write of. Unfortunately, this is not the case — the “Ice Age” grandma chihuahua isn’t the only poorly maintained dog I’ve seen in College Station.
I’ve been to a house where the dog parkoured the sofas and dive-bombed into peoples’ faces for attention and food. A friend of mine has neighbors whose dogs howl the entire time their owner is away for class. When returning to my apartment late at night, I’ve repeatedly run into a cat who will follow me to my door then yowl outside for hours.
It takes all my willpower to not ignore my severe cat allergy and let the poor thing in.
These are not healthy or well-trained behaviors. What saddens me is that these pets, deserving of a good life, are left to the mercy of college students who want a cute, furry companion at the cost of the animal’s well-being.
A dog or cat is more than something to fill the void of loneliness that accompanies living alone. With a lack of attention and training, issues like separation anxiety and health problems can manifest. The reality is, our college lifestyles — filled with demanding activities like classes, studying and socializing — almost guarantee that any pet will be exposed to lengthy absences and inadequate attention.
House cats shouldn’t be left to wander outside in the rain at two in the morning. Puppies shouldn’t be left unattended for countless hours on end. A small, disabled dog shouldn’t be left by itself at a loud party.
All I ask is that we students spend more time thinking about the choice to own a pet: Do you take good care of yourself? Are you willing to sacrifice considerable time, freedom and money? Do other living things like plants thrive or die under your watch?
Although other factors come into play, if the overwhelming answer is no, then maybe it’s not such a good idea after all.
Ana Sofia Sloane is a political science sophomore and opinion columnist for The Battalion.