OPINION: Think before you adopt a pet in Pullman

Don't adopt an animal unless you are absolutely sure you can take care of it

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LAUREN PETTIT | DAILY EVERGREEN ILLUSTRATION

It is imperative to understand your living situation before you add a pet into an apartment or dorm room when in college

HALEY BRICKWEDEL, Evergreen columnist

Dogs live on average 10-13 years, and cats live from 2-16 years. This means they can become a big part of life, the home and family. But the biggest mistake college students are making is adopting an animal when they are not ready. This can lead to pets being neglected and in need of new homes. 

The Whitman County Humane Society is less than a mile from campus, the only humane society in Pullman. This humane society has accumulated animals from poor situations, like being dropped off by families and young adults that can no longer handle the responsibility of the pet.

“We performed 558 adoptions–105 dogs, 22 puppies, 137 cats, 263 kittens, three guinea pigs, two rabbits, one ferret, eight rats, two ducks and 16 fish in 2019,” Ashley Phelps, the shelter director at Whitman County Humane Society, said.

The adoption process looks like this: adoption counseling, questionnaire, proof of address, landlord approval (if required) and meet and greets with members of the household. 

“This [adoption paperwork] is fairly successful as we only had 21 returned adoptions [who then found another home] out of all the adoptions performed last year,” Phelps said.

If an adopter cannot commit to the things in the adoption counseling and paperwork the humane society will and have in the past denied adoptions. 

However, just because you have a safe home doesn’t mean you should adopt. Think about all of the aspects of owning a pet, especially if you’re a busy college student.

“Being young doesn’t make you a good or bad pet owner, it’s all about your schedule and your ability to provide for their needs, emotionally, physically and financially,” Phelps said.

Phelps said she recommends young adults and college students adopt adult cats. They are the best pets for busy schedules (like many college students tend to have). This is because the adult cat will sleep about 80 percent of the day and may adapt their wake hours to fit to when the owner is home.

So, if you live in a dorm or small apartment, don’t adopt a dog. Really take time to understand the limitations of your living space when trying to accommodate an new animal in your life.

“We usually range about five adoptions per week, however during summertime (kitten season) we range closer to 10 adoptions per week.” Sierah Beeler, shelter operations manager for The Humane Society of the Palouse, said.

With so many pets finding new homes, it is the humane society’s responsibility to ensure the pets are moving to a safe living situation. The potential owner will fill out paperwork, this process was designed to pair an ideal pet to the owner. So don’t waste their time if you won’t meet any of these requirements for a pet.

“We start with an pre-adoption application, then a contract and finally a microchip registration form. We do verify verbally with landlords that the pets are allowed as well, to ensure the adopter and animal are safe from eviction or fines,” Beeler said.

The adopters then have a seven-day foster period. The seven days is given to ensure that the animal is a good fit. If not, it can be brought back to find a home. Pets are a lifelong commitment and a potential owner should be ready and willing to keep the animal for their whole life.

“It can be super easy to fall in love with a cute face, and decide to take it home that day. Then reality hits, and you realize how much supplies you need to buy, or veterinary costs,” Beeler said. 

With pets having such a long-life span, there needs to be preparation and understanding for what kind of commitment the owner is making before adopting. College students and young adults need to evaluate their living situation and busy schedules before committing to a lifelong friend.