Ethical pet ownership in college

25 Aug, 2023

Ethical pet ownership in college

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If you have always wanted to be a petowner but never had the chance while living at home you may think that in college will be an opportunity. Before you take that step read this article on ethical pet ownership in college so you fully understand the commitment that is adopting a pet, especially in your college environment.

Want a pet in college? Ethical pet ownership tips 

ethical pet ownership
Keeping a pet in college can be fun but it comes with a serious commitment

Photo by Tamas Pap

College life is a time of immense personal growth, social exploration, and academic pursuits. However, amidst the pressures of classes, extracurricular activities, and deadlines, many students feel the urge to bring a pet into their lives for companionship, emotional support, and stress relief.

Pets can offer unconditional love and an antidote to the loneliness or homesickness that some experience while away at school.

Concerns about ethical pet ownership in college

However, obtaining a pet while in college raises ethical concerns that go beyond simply figuring out whether your dorm allows animals. The idea of having a cute pet to cuddle with is often met with enthusiasm, but what about the responsibilities that come along with pet ownership?

Issues such as time commitment, financial capability, and long-term planning are just the tip of the iceberg.

Pets are a serious commitment

Moreover, owning a pet is a serious commitment that requires substantial preparation and understanding. It’s not something to be taken lightly or impulsively, much like how you wouldn’t just ask someone to “help write my research paper” without considering the ethical implications and responsibilities of that action.

In this article, we’ll explore how you can ethically bring a pet into your college life, ensuring that it’s a rewarding experience for both you and your future furry, feathered, or scaled friend.

ethical pet ownership
Abiding by the philosophy of ethical pet ownership means a happy owner and pet

Photo by Wade Austin Ellis

What’s Ethical Pet Ownership?

Owning a pet, especially for the first time, is exciting, but it’s also a responsibility that extends far beyond the initial joy of bringing a new animal into your life. Ethical pet ownership is crucial not only for the well-being of the pet but also for your personal development and fulfillment as a responsible individual.

The consequences of unethical pet ownership can be dire. Pet abandonment rates soar during periods like summer breaks when students realize they can’t take their pets back home or no longer wish to care for them.

In worst-case scenarios, this can lead to pets being left in shelters where they may face euthanasia. Neglect is another serious issue; some students, unaware of the amount of care a pet needs, might leave their animals malnourished or in poor living conditions. Both abandonment and neglect are troubling ethical failures that can have lasting consequences for animals.

King Charles Spaniel
Taking care of your puppy from the very beginning is so important wherever you are living

Photo by Geoff Oliver

Financial Considerations

Financial constraints are a common aspect of college life. However, owning a pet involves several ongoing expenses that can quickly add up. Basic needs like food, grooming, and regular vet visits are essential, and there could be unexpected medical emergencies requiring significant financial outlay.

Before bringing a pet into your life, it’s advisable to draft a budget considering all possible expenses, from initial adoption fees to monthly expenditures. Some research will give you a realistic idea of how much it costs to own a pet and whether or not you can afford it.

If you find that you’re cutting corners or foregoing necessities to care for your pet, it may not be the best time to make that commitment.

Time Commitment


Bringing a pet into your life requires a significant time commitment, something that college students, often juggling a busy schedule, may underestimate. Depending on the type of pet, daily activities like feeding, exercise, grooming, and playtime can take up several hours. Additionally, routine vet visits and emergency care require time.

Before adopting or purchasing a pet, assess your daily routine carefully. Can you fit in morning walks if you have an early class? Will you have time to play and interact with your pet amid studying, classes, and extracurricular activities?

Time management is crucial, and failing to provide enough time for your pet is an ethical lapse that could lead to neglect and affect the animal’s well-being.

Long-Term Commitment

Pet ownership is not a short-term project or a hobby that you can set aside when it becomes inconvenient. It’s a long-term commitment that can last anywhere from a few years to several decades, depending on the pet. As a college student, consider not just your current situation but also your future plans.

Will you be able to care for your pets after graduation? What about if you move, travel, or start a full-time job? Understanding that your commitment lasts for the lifetime of the pet ensures that you are ethically prepared for this significant responsibility. You know that caring for dogs and cats is a serious commitement.


Before you get too carried away with the idea of having a pet, make sure you’re actually allowed to keep one where you live. Many dormitories and on-campus housing options have strict no-pet policies, while others may only allow certain types of animals, like fish.

Violating these rules is not just risky for you but also unethical because it puts your pet in a precarious situation where they could end up homeless.

Off campus living

If you live off-campus or plan to move to an off-campus residence, look for pet-friendly housing options. Remember, “pet-friendly” doesn’t just mean that pets are allowed; it also means that the environment is suitable for pets.

Check for nearby parks and vets and whether the living space is adequate for the kind of pet you’re planning to get. Living in a pet-friendly environment is vital for the ethical treatment and well-being of your pet.

Ethical Pet Ownership and Adoption Options

Shelters and Rescue Organizations

If you’ve decided that you’re ready for all the responsibilities that come with owning a pet, the next step is to consider where to get one. Adopting from a shelter or rescue organization is often the most ethical choice. Not only does this give a home to a pet in need, but it also discourages unethical practices like overbreeding and puppy mills.

Avoiding Puppy Mills and Unethical Breeders

While there may be a temptation to go for “designer” pets or certain breeds, doing so without proper research can support puppy mills and unethical breeding practices. These establishments prioritize profit over the well-being of the animals and often operate under poor conditions.

Before deciding to buy from a breeder, make sure to research extensively and visit the location yourself. Look for warning signs like poor living conditions, multiple litters available at the same time, or a lack of medical records for the animals. Choosing an ethical source for your pet is crucial in responsible pet ownership.

Foster Care

If the commitment to owning a pet seems too substantial, given your current lifestyle, you might consider fostering. Many shelters and rescue organizations look for temporary homes for pets. Fostering can be a more flexible commitment that still allows you to enjoy the companionship of a pet.

Additionally, it’s an ethical way to help animals in need without taking on a long-term obligation you’re not ready for.

labrador in a classroom

Whether with a new puppy or a senior companion in college learn about ethical pet ownership before you leave for collegePhoto by Helena Lopes

Virtual Pet Platforms

Another low-commitment option to consider is virtual pets. Digital platforms can offer a sense of companionship and responsibility without the real-world implications, such as feeding and healthcare. While they can’t replace the emotional connection with a live animal, they can offer a middle ground for those unable to commit fully.

Community Pet Programs

In some college settings, community pet programs allow students to share the responsibilities and benefits of pet ownership. For example, a group of friends or a dorm community might adopt a pet and share the duties of care.

These programs can offer a more manageable approach to pet ownership but require effective coordination and shared responsibility among participants.

Final thoughts on ethical pet ownership in college

The decision to adopt a pet should not be done on an impulse. Instead this decision should be a well-considered choice that takes into account your financial stability, time commitment, housing, and long-term plans.

Ethical pet ownership implies an ethical obligation that holds real-world implications for both you and your future pet. Just like how you’d only trust the best dissertation writing services for your academic work, choosing to bring a pet into your life requires careful selection and thoughtful planning.

By adhering to the considerations and options for ethical pet ownership as laid out in this article, you equip yourself with the knowledge and responsibility to make pet ownership during your college years a rewarding experience for both you and your pet.

Further reading about pet care and pet sitting and pet sitters

At Housesit we like to share useful blogs and practical advice about housesitters, housesitting and pet sitting. We hope you find this small selection of our blogs on house sitters useful.

8 Pets to have as a student at college

Pet minding responsibilities at College

Create a student workspace at home

Top 10 tips for catsitting

Top dogsitting tips for beginners

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