Paws at UF
I cannot begin to tell you how many times my kids have called from college saying they want to buy or foster a dog or cat. “Oh mom, you should see how cuuuute they are.” So far, in as much as they mention this regularly, they have not gone through with it yet. Perhaps it is my bombarding them with questions about whether they can have it in their apartment, where will it go when they leave for college breaks, who will watch this pet or pay for the care of this pet.
But, every time I visit them at college, I am amazed at how many students actually have adopted pets (of course from a rescue or from the local humane society).
Don’t get me wrong. I love animals; especially cats ….and so do my kids. Yet, I am not a big fan of students adopting pets when away at college. I understand that the unconditional love of a sweet puppy or kitten can be wonderful around stressful times like midterms or finals. (UF often brings therapy dogs to campus during these times for just this reason.) I am, however, very aware of the work that goes into training a pet and the expenses that come along with their lovability. Nevertheless, students occasionally develop amnesia for these sorts of realities and get drawn in by an adorable kitten or puppy. Beware of text messages touting puppy and kitten faces. I recommend counteracting those with pictures of goldfish (the only pets allowed in an aquarium limited to a 10-gallon capacity in the dorms). Perhaps if you stay strong; your student will too.
Pet Policy Agreement
However, should your student decide to adopt a pet while at college, they should check the rules for where they are living or intend to live. The only pets allowed in the dorms are fish, hamsters, gerbils, lizards (no iguanas) that have a maximum length of 6 inches, nonpoisonous salamanders and frogs (yes, this is written and it must be certified), geckos and chinchillas. Now, before your student runs out to get one of these approved dorm pets, they will need to fill out the pet policy agreement (they can get that from their dorm area office) and they must have written approval from their roommates and residence hall staff beforehand. You may find more rules about having a pet in a dorm here. (Undergraduate Housing Community Standards)
When searching for an apartment, it is easy enough to find out which are pet-friendly without having to make too many phone calls. Some apartment complexes have separate leases for pets. Remind your student of the furniture issue….some places come furnished. Remind your student to inspect everything upon moving in and take pictures of any damage so that their new four-legged friends cannot be blamed for it and consequently, not fined for it. It happens.
It is rather important they live in a place that is pet-friendly. Some students have tried to camouflage their pets and have been given seven days to get rid of the animal or be evicted. Some apartments fine their residents immediately. Others have more stringent fines. For example, at Oxford Terrace, where my daughter and her three roommates live, if reasonable evidence is found that unauthorized pet(s) or animal(s) occupied and/or damaged the premises during the lease term, it is considered a violation of the Lease, and an automatic $1,000 non-refundable pet and animal fee will be assessed, plus $25 per month for the period of time that the pet or animal was in the apartment. These additional fees are in addition to any damage caused by unauthorized pet(s) or animal(s). Obviously, none of these are situations you want your student to be a part of.
Then again, as life goes, it doesn’t always matter what we advise our children. My daughter’s friend fostered a puppy last year; that, for the record, as darling as she is, is going home with one of her roommates for all holidays, summers and after graduation. (This is probably the best situation if your student is insistent on having a pet at school.) I am not sure how they divided up the chores of walking, feeding and cleaning up after the puppy, but I was sure to remind them at the very beginning that these were all responsibilities that came with a pet. Later, they concluded on their own, that puppies need lots of exercise to wear them out if they wanted sleep each night. So, maybe a kitten would have been a better choice, but, truth be told; guys do not run up to pet a kitten on a leash.
Finally, if you do end up with grand-puppies, or grand-kittens, you may want to add some Gator gear to the holiday shopping list. There are all kinds of fun leashes, collars, toys, and jerseys for our newest, furry fans. If you’re lucky, you too may get some zany videos/pics like the ones I send them of our cat in return.