Students at UConn—and at any other university, truthfully—have aspired to juggle their rigorous academic and recreational duties with the responsibility of owning a pet. At first glance, the idea of a college student taking in a dog or cat seems rather harmless; after all, said student is displaying a desire to support another living being and would be learning some valuable life lessons concerning how to budget one’s time and money in order to ensure proper care. But upon closer inspection, perhaps these students should think more long-term and shelter their deepest impulses. This fact has become especially apparent in light of the Mansfield Animal Shelter’s reported spike in animal intakes as UConn students graduate and depart from the premises.
According to Mansfield animal control officer Noranna Nielsen, pet intakes and outtakes largely follow a seasonal pattern. In the wintertime, the shelter is virtually vacant, a natural consequence of the frigid outdoor conditions that force pet owners to keep their animals inside their homes. During the spring and summer months, on the other hand, Mansfield Animal Shelter experiences a dramatic uptick in the number of animals it houses.
Numerous variables factor into this discrepancy. For one, the warm weather inspires pet owners to take more trips and vacations, which consequently creates more opportunities for their furry companions to run away, get lost or behave viciously—all acts that would strengthen the likelihood of an animal turning up at the shelter. Additionally, UConn students who graduate in May often surrender their pets at this time as yet another housekeeping duty. Unsurprisingly, subpar time management appears to be the chief motivator behind UConn students’ increasing referral of their pets to the Mansfield Animal Shelter.
As Nielsen fairly notes, “We do have students that will come to surrender their animals, which is the responsible thing to do if you cannot keep their animal”.
But ultimately, many college students can hardly even take care of themselves, and it simply is not worth disrupting a pet’s livelihood and emotional state by carelessly abandoning it—or, in extremely cruel cases, leaving it to fend for itself on the streets—particularly when said pet is mere months old and more suitable owners and environments exist.
No longer can UConn students give their pets the short end of the stick; after all, several such pets gleefully carry sticks that extend beyond the width of their mouths, for crying out loud! Although some may say “big woof,” and others may even claim that we are crying over spilled cat’s milk, abandoning innocent animals at their time of need certainly is not a worthwhile venture, and UConn students’ well-intentioned yet ill-fated wish to become pet owners should tail off into the distance.