OPINION: Getting a pet starts with thinking, planning ahead

(File Photo by George Walker | The Collegian)

Since August, many students have been forced to leave their beloved pets at home as they make the journey back to Manhattan. Naturally, some K-Staters might really be missing Fido and wonder if getting a pet while in school is an option for them.

There’s really no clear-cut answer to this. Sure, you could get a pet while still in college, but it’s definitely not something to rush into. If this is something you’re considering, here’s a quick breakdown of when and where is the best time to get a pet while getting your degree:

If you currently live in the residence halls, there’re quite a few hoops to jump through. According to the Kansas State University Association of Residence Halls pet policy, an approval form must be signed by the owner, the owner’s roommates and the Residence Life Coordinator. A list of approved pets can be found on the form as well. Most of the approved pets are very small and don’t require a lot of space, so anything like a German shepherd is already out of the question.

Janay Johnson, senior in kinesiology, owned a hamster named Thor during her two years in the residence halls. After moving off campus, she took the plunge and got a miniature beagle named Lucy, and describes owning Thor in the halls as much easier than taking on a dog off campus.

If you live off campus, it first becomes a question of whether or not your building allows pets. In the Jardine handbook, the Jardine apartments specifically ban most pets, except fish in a tank less than 30 gallons. Pets under 30 pounds are allowed in apartments like Chase Manhattan Apartments and Founders Hill, but that comes with a fee. Other off-campus buildings don’t allow pets at all, which is something to discuss with a potential landlord before signing a lease.

Johnson said she dealt with her own set of challenges with Lucy, as she and her roommate quickly found out that Lucy wasn’t housebroken and had to be taken out every two to three hours.

The time commitment that comes with owning a pet can usually stretch into unforeseen areas.

“When either of us wanted to go out of town, we had to make sure Lucy would be taken care of,” Johnson said.

Ashli Cummings, senior in anthropology, currently lives in a house off campus with a roommate’s cat, Malcolm. Cummings said she loves having a furry friend around.

“Having a loyal companion is awesome,” Cummings said.

However, she also stresses that pet ownership in college, especially with a busy schedule and limited finances, is not something to take lightly.

“Pets are not only a time commitment but something that you need to plan for financially as well,” Cummings said. “Pets deserve care and commitment.”

She’s got a point. If you want to get a dog, for example, you should keep in mind that according to the RaisingSpot.com, dogs can cost anywhere from $660 to $5,270 in the first year of ownership alone.

Deciding whether or not you should get a pet isn’t really a quick yes or no answer. It should take a lot of thought and planning.

First, decide if your living space allows pets and is an ideal space for them. Next, make sure you have the time, energy and cash to keep your potential pet happy and healthy. If any of these considerations are starting to raise red flags, then maybe it’s a good idea to wait on pet ownership until things are a little more stable.

“It definitely gets easier as time goes by,” Johnson said, who moved into a house last summer with a fenced-in backyard that Lucy loves. “I think it was totally worth it.”