There are certain times of year when animal shelters tend to be at their busiest.  For example, a few weeks after Christmas, shelters begin to overflow with all of those puppies and kittens that were given as gifts to unprepared recipients.  Late spring is also a busy time, often due to unaltered stray animals and their tendency to breed around that time.

Another difficult time for animal shelters happens to be “back to school” season (more specifically, “back to college”).  College students often find themselves in situations where they suddenly feel as if they won’t be able to keep their beloved sidekick.  This doesn’t have to be the case, however.  Balancing college life with anything can really be a challenge, but it’s definitely doable. Here are some great tips for managing your relationship with your pet when you head off to school:

If you plan to live in the college dorms (where pets are obviously not allowed):

It’s wise to speak with your trusted friends and family members long before your anticipated move.  Oftentimes, your loved ones want to support you in your academic endeavors, and you may be surprised how willing they are to lend a helping hand.

The best part is that if you’re within a reasonable traveling distance, you’ll be able to visit with your best friend on weekends and holidays.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • It takes time and energy to care for a pet, and your loved ones are doing you a huge favor by making sure that your companion is safe while you’re away studying. Be sure to show your gratitude every chance you get!
  • Never leave it up to your friends or family to fund the basic needs of the animal. More specifically, they shouldn’t be held financially responsible for food or veterinary care.

If you plan to live in an off-campus apartment:

This is probably the most ideal situation for a college student with a dog or cat.  When you begin to shop for a college apartment, be sure to first narrow down your search to include only the complexes that are pet-friendly.  Here are a few additional tips:

  • If you plan to share your apartment with roommates, be sure that everyone is on the same page about the care of the animal.
  • Always try to ensure that your pet is behaving respectfully. Do not allow your pet to disturb roommates, neighbors, or apartment staff.
  • Do your best to squeeze quality time with your pet into your schedule. That’s why you’re so intent on keeping him or her with you, isn’t it?

Finally, remember that if you expect that your class schedule will be pretty heavy during the coming school year, you should plan for a friend or paid pet sitter to swing by and care for your pet through the day.  If you own a dog, you may also want to consider a doggie daycare, which also provides social enrichment for your pup.

Keeping your pet by your side throughout your college years is far from an impossible task, and we want to encourage you to consider every option before making the gut-wrenching decision to surrender your best friend to your local animal shelter.

Featured Photo Credit: ejbSF via Compfight cc