Pet owners often abandon responsibilities

By Audrey Weick

The abandonment of cats and dogs by college students is not uncommon in DeKalb, with students realizing that pet ownership is laden with numerous responsibilites.

Pet owners often abandon responsibilities

The DeKalb County Animal Shelter receives an average of 15 abandoned animals in a two-month period, said shelter Director Jerrie Hayward. Several other animals are loose and forced to live in the streets—the majority of these are cats.

There is a marked increase of abandoned animals during Christmas and spring breaks, Hayward said. The shelter has had to become more selective when adopting out animals, she said.

Students still try to bend the rules by faking their addresses so it does not look as if they live in an apartment.

Hayward recently was harassed by three students who wanted to adopt a puppy. When they were informed about the shelter’s policy, they became verbally abusive, Hayward said.

Hayward said they were the kind of students who adopt a dog and when it messes up their home, they abandon it.

“These students want a dog when they can’t even clean up after themselves.”

However, not all students who want to adopt an animal will mistreat it, Hayward said. “I’ve had to turn away some good students,” she said. “It’s just a case of the bad ruining it for the good.”

The problem of pet abandonment might stem from students adopting pets despite their apartment’s anti-pet policy, Hayward said. Students try to hide the pet from their landlords, but these attempts often are unsuccessful, said Kay Berkshire, manager of College Square Apartments.

Usually, the landlord will notify the tenant through the mail and then impose a fine. The tenant has a few days to find a new home for the animal. “I think the majority of students do find homes for their pets and don’t just abandon the animals—at least I hope they do,” Berkshire said.

Joyce Williams, manager of Lincolshire West, said she agreed with Berkshire. “We generally don’t have a problem with tenants trying to sneak in pets,” she said. “Before the students move in, we sit them down and tell them the rules.”

There are still violators, though. Predictably, the violators are discovered and forced to pay up and find a new home for their pets.

While most students find homes for the animals, others do not. This is what leads to abandonment, said Hayward.

“The best thing that students can do is wait until they are out of school and in their own homes to adopt a pet,” Hayward said.