Every May, thousands of Miami University seniors graduate and move on from college. But as students leave Oxford to start new lives in different places, some leave behind more than classes, friends and houses — some leave behind pets as well.
In the Butler County area, animal shelters and student rental companies have voiced their concerns about college students’ inability to be responsible pet owners.
The Annex is a living community made up of cottages and town homes designed for Miami students. This year, the company has made several announcements regarding pets and pet ownership to its residents.
Annex’s staff notified residents on Sept. 15 and again on Oct. 18 about loose dogs that were running around in the area.
On Oct. 9, Ashley Alexander, one of Annex’s resident services manager, emailed residents to address the amount of animal waste found on the property.
Annex provides student pet owners with designated waste containers, but many students ignore them.
In her email, Alexander said, “We have learned that there are individuals that have left their animal in the apartment for extended periods of time, without proper supervision and without providing it with food or water.”
This is not the only instance of Miami students neglecting animals that has been reported in Oxford.
“We do receive a higher number of calls right after MU students finish the school year, typically in the middle of May,” said Eric Johnson, the animal care director at the Animal Care Foundation (ACF) in Hamilton in an email to The Miami Student. “We also receive calls from students themselves leading up to the end of the school year saying that they have to give up their pet because they have nowhere to take it.”
Johnson also said he had spoken with a Miami student who is graduating in December and has to give up their cat at the end of the semester.
The ACF is a private, nonprofit no-kill animal shelter and receives about 30 calls a day from people who want to surrender animals.
Most of the stray animals come from the Hamilton or Oxford area.
While the Annex housing staff and Johnson deal with the negative consequences of students who neglect their pets, some Miami students are frustrated by the stereotype that college students are irresponsible pet owners.
“I wanted a friend to have around and keep me company when I don’t feel like being with other people,” said junior Shane Patino, a Miami dog owner. “I live in a house with six other guys so when I am not home they are almost always available to keep her company and let her out to the bathroom. I think it will be difficult occasionally but I am not one to shy away from challenges.”
Johnson is not a proponent of Miami students adopting pets because he feels class schedules, roommates, rental situations, parents and post-college plans could potentially influence someone to abandoned their animal.
“Personally and professionally, I would rather college students wait until after graduation to adopt a pet,” said Johnson. “Before that, there are so many variables that could cause the student to have to give up the pet.”