Tisinger: Think about your commitment before owning a pet in college

Sarah Tisinger

Many students feel at a loss having left their beloved pet back home once they come to college. Others view this time as an opportunity to gain a pet, but furry friends do come with a price. 

Before either bringing your loved one up to college with you or picking one up at the Nevada Shelter, there are a few monetary questions you need to truthfully answer to yourself.

Obviously, the first question is who will be paying for food, toys and veterinary bills? If it’s you, make sure you have a steady monthly income to pay for these items, especially veterinary bills. Dogs and cats need regular yearly shots, heartworm medicine and flea/tick control. Those costs add up and you must also be prepared for the unexpected veterinary call if your pet becomes sick or requires urgent care.

Many places in Ames do not allow you to have pets besides fish. If you should find a place that does allow pets, beware of the high pet deposit fees and/or monthly pet fees. Can you really afford an extra $50 a month just to keep your friend with you?

If you are to go out of town for a weekend, do you know where to find reliable care for your pet? You can’t always take him or her with you and boarding facilities charge fairly high rates. Plus, boarding your pet at places like a veterinarian’s office is risking bad behavior when you come back. Anxiety, excessive noise from your animal and bad manners are a few good examples.

The last and most expensive expense is your time. Do you have a backyard where your pet is safely able to roam about? The Ames Dog Park charges $40 for a year’s pass, but you will need your own reliable transportation to get there. Can you walk your dog multiple times a week and supply ample playtime in between classes?

If you believe you are capable of caring for a pet while in college, here are a few money saving tips you may enjoy. The ISU Veterinary hospital gives a 10-percent off discount to ISU faculty, staff and students. If you need to go out of town and don’t want to board your furry friends, the ISU Pre-Vet Club offers free in-home pet sitting. You can contact them at [email protected]

The Story County Animal Shelter charges only a $25 adoption fee for dogs that includes spay/neuter, first shots and worming. The cat adoption fee is $20 and includes spay/neuter, first shots, worming and declawing of front paws.

Stores such as Theisens in Ames are great places to find anything from leashes, collars, feed and bowls. I especially like Theisens for items like pig’s ears and bully sticks. Stay away from buying pet supplies from grocery stores, as prices will be higher and selection is low.

Veterinary offices can supply you with flea/tick control and heartworm medication, but petcarerx.com often has these items for less than you can get from the vet. However, you still need to have a vet do heartworm tests before you buy these products.

Companies like Greenies usually offer great coupons, and visiting the blog at mypetsavings.com will tell you where these offers are. Iams Co. offers discounts for owners who adopted their pet.

The Petsmart Petperks card is definitely an advantage. Signing up for this, you receive coupons just for joining, coupons on your pet’s birthday, everyday savings on many items in their store and discounts from sites they partner with, including restaurant.com, 1800flowers and Lady Foot Locker.

Owning pets in college is possible, and there are many discounts available, but make sure you’re honest with yourself before taking the commitment. As always, stay smart, stay classy, and I’ll see you next week.