More college students are adopting pets than before, but is it the right time to be a pet owner?

Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

As young adults begin to move out on their own, they can feel lonely without their pets from home. Many students are adopting pets to alleviate this need of support and company of an animal.

Around 75% of college students who leave home for school experience separation anxiety from their pets that they leave with their families.

More students are adopting pets to curb this anxiety and fill their new homes with the same type of comfort that they now feel detached from.

Makenna Green, a junior at Boise State studying health studies and science, adopted a cat with her roommate and recommends other students to do the same.

“We originally decided to adopt a pet when one of our friends got a kitten, and it convinced us it was a good idea,” Green said. ”I would totally say to do it. It can be a time commitment, but cats are low-key, and we’re gonna have so many more memories to tell our kids from having our own pet.”

Not only does owning a pet affect your college and young adult experience, but it can also have an impact on the way a person lives and their overall mental health. 

Kristine Schellhaas, the public relations manager for the Idaho Humane Society, feels that there is a strong connection between emotional health and pet ownership, although she also believes there are drawbacks to students having their own pets.

“Animals provide a tremendous amount of love and support to their owners, but in turn, they

also need support,” Scheelhass said. “They need daily enrichment and attention, food, veterinary care and more. If the owner wants to travel, arrangements need to be provided for appropriate care, and of course, unexpected emergencies may arise that may cost thousands of dollars.”

Pets do require some financial stability and can prevent younger people from having complete freedom over their daily schedules, but despite these drawbacks, they do provide happiness and comfort to those that take the risk.

Chloe Stowell, the manager at pet supply store Bark N’ Purr on Vista Avenue, shared that she has an emotional support animal at home that she adopted at 21 years old.

Stowell shared that having her own emotional support pet has changed her life for the better, and she has no regrets. 

“Having an emotional support animal has helped me develop independence and has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone,” Stowell said. “Due to some mental health conditions, it can be difficult to find consistency and routine. Having an emotional support dog helps me maintain a routine, which helps support a healthy mental state.”

[Photo of a college student’s pet.]
Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

Owning pets can make it difficult to find a place to live that is pet friendly, as many landlords and apartments in Bosie don’t allow pets. However, if you and your pet qualify, owning an emotional support animal is a good way to support yourself and ensure you will be able to live anywhere you would like to, regardless of pet restrictions.

“More rentals have slowed accepting specific pets, sometimes specific breeds or dogs within a set weight range. Some prohibit cats, reptiles and more,” Scheelhaas said. “The Idaho Humane Society has seen a large uptick in owners surrendering their pets to us as finding pet-friendly, affordable rentals are becoming more difficult to find. Relinquishing a pet is never an easy one, so if students are considering adopting, I recommend having a plan in place.”

When deciding to get an emotional support animal or deeming a pet as one, it is important to keep in mind that fraudulently claiming you are in need of an ESA can prevent others from being able to do so.

“I love finding ways to enrich my ESA’s life as much as he has enriched mine,” Stowell said. “Although, I think it is extremely important to ensure that people understand ESA’s and that service animals are not a joke. Faking one can be detrimental to those who truly need them. It can be an easy way to not pay pet rent, but it can affect the availability of those who actually need them.” 

Owning a pet at a young age is a big responsibility and can cause stress when it comes to housing or affordability, but if a student is able to make the commitment and provide a proper environment for a pet, having a pet of their own can offer many mental health benefits and make for a great overall experience of comfort and support. 

Leave a Reply