To college students who have grown up with family pets, it can be disheartening to move away to a campus that does not allow animal companions. Although students may be overjoyed to finally be living without their parents, they may find themselves missing their pets more than they anticipated. Read on for 5 ways you can spend time with animals in college.
1) The Local Animal Shelter
Most, if not all, college towns have a local animal shelter where residents surrender pets that they can no longer care for or where stray animals are brought. Many of these animals went from living in a home and getting daily exercise and interactions to living in a small cage indefinitely. Although staff who work at the shelters do their best to give daily attention to every animal, they have other responsibilities to attend to. Animal shelters depend on volunteers to help care for the animals, so consider applying to volunteer! Animals taken into shelters can range from dogs and cats of all ages and breeds, to rodents such as guinea pigs and rabbits, as well as ferrets. In addition to being able to spend time with many animals, it also gives volunteers the chance to learn much about animal behavior, how to care for injuries, and even how to train animals properly!
2) Nonprofit rescue
If animal shelters do not typically take in your pet of preference, consider researching different animal rescues within the area. Nonprofit rescues typically take in needy animals when shelters are filled to capacity, or cater to a specific animal that may not be able to be surrendered to a shelter. Rescues for cats and dogs are most common, but nonprofits taking in horses, other farm animals, and even animals rescued from agricultural practices are common as well, in addition to rescues for birds, snakes, or rabbits.
3) Feral Cat Colonies
If you attend school near any city, chances are there are several colonies of feral cats living nearby. Organizations where volunteers drive out daily to a selected location to feed the stray cats are increasing. The goal is to to spay or neuter the rescued cats, and then release them back out, or to take them into a foster home. This sort of volunteering requires minimal time commitment, but is still a very rewarding way to help animals in need.
This option isn’t available for most college students living on campus, but students living in apartments or homes off campus that allow pets should consider fostering. Many animal rescues are in desperate need for people willing to foster cats and/or dogs (and sometimes even other animals!). This arrangement is ideal for students because the rescue usually pays for all food and veterinary care in exchange for giving the animal a temporary home. Animals that don’t do well in shelters usually do better in foster homes. However, fostering an animal is a sizeable responsibility that requires serious consideration beforehand. Before fostering, students should make sure they have adequate time to devote to the foster animal, and will be able to provide it with the proper care.
5) Assist an Animal Network Website/Facebook page
Although this doesn’t entail working directly with animals, there are many Facebook pages and websites that work to network needy animals into new homes through social media. Volunteer your time by working as an administrator for the page, or offering to go out to shelters to photograph the animals and evaluate their behavior so the information can be adding to the websites. Write grants for rescues or organize an event on campus where students can donate money or food to help a shelter or rescue.
Kim Meneo is a student at Connecticut College studying English and environmental science. In her free time, she volunteers at a local equine rescue and produces freelance articles for several companies. During the summer, she can usually be found relaxing on the beach with a good book. Any questions, concerns, or general inquiries can be emailed to her at email@example.com