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Students learn commitment of owning pets


Junior Sydney Ziegler plays with her dog Gilmour Sunday evening outside of the Fine Arts Plaza. Ziegler adopted the bichon frise poodle mix last November from the Bartholomew County Humane Society in Columbus, Indiana. Andrew Williams Buy Photos

Most people love pets, but being a student with pets can get pretty complicated. Some students get pets without understanding the full commitment that comes with being a student and taking care of a pet.  

Julia Eppley, Bloomington Animal Care and Control Shelter manager, said their goal is to find and advocate for the animals in the shelter, and all animals, to be lifelong companions. Eppley said owners should consciously make decisions in their life that reflect the fact that they are a pet parent. 

She said before you adopt an animal you should realistically judge what the commitment looks like. 

“If you are adopting a 2-year-old lab, you might have that lab for 12 more years potentially. What happens when you graduate? What happens when you go on break? Do you have the financial resources?” Eppley said.  

If someone is interested in getting a dog as a pet, they should consider the type of breed they are going to get. 

“If you're looking at canines, there are a lot of different types of dogs and some are inherently bred to be working dogs and need a job and need a lot of exercise,” Eppley said. 

Eppley said because most students live in an apartment-type setting, they might not have experience with the type of work that these dogs are bred to do. Eppley said because most students live in an apartment-type setting, they might not have experience with the type of work that these dogs are bred to do because of not living on a farm or other places where working dogs work. The dogs will have a bunch of pent-up energy that will come out in inappropriate ways.

Also when looking at breeds, a potential dog owner should think about the possible discrimination that certain breeds deal with and how that will affect their life. 

“It was really hard finding a place because I have a pitbull,"  IU student Claire Katz said. "He’s 65 pounds and that's big for a lot of the weight limits in town and lot of places have breed limits that they are thought to be aggressive.” 

Unfortunately, some students do return their pets to the shelter. Eppley said when pets are returned it’s mostly because the pet didn’t mesh well with the student's life. 

When a pet is returned to the shelter, it's because the animal became destructive, they didn’t get along with another person or pet in the home or they just weren’t suited for the type of lifestyle of a student, Eppley said.

IU student and dog owner Sydney Ziegler can attest to this.

“It gets really complicated around finals, even sometimes when I want to be involved in student groups, like when I go to my weekly meetings on Mondays,” Ziegler said.

Even when making her schedules for classes, she must consider her pet at home. Ziegler said she must make sure that she has two-hour breaks to go home and take care of her dog. 

“Most people spend their two-hour break studying, but I'm usually spending it going home," Ziegler said.

If a potential dog owner knows that he won’t have much time or energy, he could do what Katz did. When Katz was looking for a dog, she specifically typed in "lazy" into and found an old fighting dog. 

“He doesn’t need a lot of exercise because he’s old and has severe arthritis," Katz said. "When he's home, he mostly sleeps." 

Although pets can come with a lot of hardships, both Ziegler and Katz said they don't regret getting their dogs. Ziegler said although she was warned, she doesn't regret getting her dog for a second.

“It is very rewarding especially with him and seeing how much he has changed," Katz said. "He looks so much better than when I got him."

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