OPINION | Students need maturity to own pets

Casey Wade, Views Editor

(Hallie Goldthrope)

Across Tulane University’s student population, students own pets ranging from reptiles to bunnies to dogs. Pets can be irreplaceable companions for college students, help them develop a sense of responsibility and adjust to adulthood. However, owning a pet requires time, dedication and patience. Students must take accountability and think deeply about owning a pet before committing. 

At Tulane, emotional-support animals are allowed in dorms. But, most students move off campus their junior year, so they can own a pet if their lease permits. Tulane requires a strenuous process for an on-campus pet to be approved, so most students with special accommodations for pets in dorms fully know the time and effort an animal needs. For students living off campus, it is easier to commit to an animal without realizing the effort needed to care for a pet.

Before adopting, students must research the type of pet they want. They should even consider doing a test run with an animal if possible. Students can foster from organizations like TakePaws Rescue or Zeus’ Rescue in New Orleans. Fostering allows students to gain insight into the daily work required to own a pet and whether they are prepared to take on the challenge. TakePaws is very popular across campus; junior Hana Castilow has babysat for a number of TakePaws dogs and said, “I loved babysitting for TakePaws. It is nice to spend time with dogs without fully committing to adopting a dog.”

In a similar vein, Tulane offers Tulane University Service-Dog Training and Education Program, where students can apply to train a puppy to become a service dog. TUSTEP offers excellent opportunities for animal lovers who may not be ready to commit to owning a dog for its entire life — students may not know if they will have the same resources available to care for pets beyond graduation.

Once students evaluate their lifestyle and capabilities, pets can be loving companions for young adults. Research proves that dogs can lower cortisol levels in the body, relieving stress. Pets can also help combat loneliness. Eighty-five percent of pet owners surveyed stated that their pet helps with feelings of isolation or loneliness.

Students ready to take on the challenge of pet ownership will learn valuable skills of time management and accountability. Owning a pet typically requires a rigid schedule for feeding, exercising and general care. These life skills will prepare students for much more than just owning a pet. Senior Phoebe Hurwitz puts it simply: “I love owning my dog, it teaches responsibility.”

Not every pet requires the same effort as raising and training a new puppy. Animals like rabbits, cats or hamsters provide companionship without the effort of daily walks or intensive training. Also, senior dogs are typically much lower energy and struggle to find homes, so this could be a viable option for young adults.

If students fully take their time in determining whether they are capable of caring for an animal, both student and pet can find a loving new friend.

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