Point/Counterpoint | Do college students make good ‘pet parents?’

Opinions Editor Sophia Meador and Opinions columnist Yasmina Sahir debate on whether college students should have pets.

September 27, 2022


We’ve all the seen the heart- wrenching TV commercials where Sarah McLachlan sings “Angel” while sad dogs and cats beg us for donations. For many like myself, these commercials can convince them a shelter animal is in dire need of their love and attention.

Each year, 3.1 million dogs and 3.2 million cats are placed in shelters, according to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Although one can easily argue that college students are too busy and irresponsible to properly tend to the needs of a pet, no pet parent is perfect.

Perhaps college students are not exemplary when it comes to providing the best possible home for a pet. But any home that provides a pet love and attention is better than a lonesome shelter.

Caring for a pet in college is not a one-way street. Owning a pet has several benefits for the care provider.

College can be a stress-inducing, depressing, and lonely place. Pets can make an otherwise void campus feel like a home. In fact, pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets, according to HelpGuide, a nonprofit focused on mental health and wellness.

Owning a pet can also bring structure and routine to a student’s chaotic scheduling. Carving out time to feed, walk, and attend to pet’s needs can establish stability in a students life.

This past year, I started living with a cat for the first time. While skeptical at first, every day I’m eager to come home and see our beloved pet. Pet ownership helped me grow as an adult and taught me to tend to the needs of others. I feel more prepared to care for other pets and people in the future.

Though owning a pet is not for everyone, caring for a pet is well worth the extra work.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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Although jokes about millennial pet parents and their “fur babies” are common on social media, it’s true that animals are essentially children.

The college lifestyle typically includes unpredictable schedules, low-income budgets, and rotating living environments. Because they are financially and socially unestablished, college students can’t become successful pet parents without the possibility of harm to the animals they love.

All animals need a certain daily amount of attention and love, requiring the physical presence of their owners. Other costs and responsibilities associated with pet ownership include medical emergencies and special needs that college students aren’t always able to fit in their budgets last minute.

Recent studies have shown that college students are likely to dump their adopted animals in shelters or even abandon them outside when the financial and social responsibility becomes too much to handle.

Stray animals — specifically feral cats — are a known problem in Iowa City. The issue is not the animals themselves, but rather the unpredictable winter weather and heavy traffic that can endanger stray animals living in unsheltered areas.

College students add to this problem when they take in animals they later decide they cannot care for properly. This problem was especially noted during the height of COVID-19 when many people decided to adopt animals during pandemic lockdown.

Before adopting an animal, potential owners must look past the present to see if a pet fits into their lifestyle for the next 10 — sometimes 20 or more — years.

Because college students can’t guarantee attention, secure housing, or the financial ability to care for an animal, they shouldn’t adopt.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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