Bethany Bruner, Staff Writer

Undergraduate students who leave the Oxford area during the summer sometimes leave pets behind. Some animals have even been found on the side of the road with a bag of food. (SCOTT ALLISON | The Miami Student)

When finals end in May and Oxford becomes less populated for the summer, some of our furry friends are going to be in need of new homes.

There are some students who adopt pets and then realize they cannot take care of them when they go home for the summer or relocate for a job that leaves them with a problem: What do I do with my pet?

Students in this situation have several options for legally relinquishing ownership of their pet, but many students choose the free and illegal option: abandoning or dumping their pets.

Dumping pets is illegal in the state of Ohio, according to Animal Control Officer Wayne Phillips. Phillips works with the Oxford Police Department and said some pet owners take their animals outside the city limits and leave them by the side of the road.

“I’ve seen them left by the side of the road with a bag of food for them,” Phillips said. “People will do that crap.”

Phillips said he has handled pets of all kinds that people no longer want to care for. Some of them had been given to a friend to take care of, but the friend no longer wanted to care for the animal.

“It’s not illegal to give a pet to a friend,” Phillips said. “It’s only illegal if they end up breaking their lease.”

Giving a pet to a friend or neighbor is one option for transferring ownership. Some paperwork needs to be filled out, but the process is simple. Other options include trying to sell the pet and taking it to a shelter.

Animal Friends Humane Society is an open-admittance shelter located in Hamilton. Meg Stephenson, executive director of the shelter, said the shelter urges students to seriously consider all scenarios when looking to adopt.

“We don’t typically adopt to undergrad students because it’s not a stagnant lifestyle,” she said. “It’s a lot of responsibility.”

Animal Friends takes dogs and cats at their facility, which is open seven days a week.

Stephenson said students looking to relinquish ownership of their dog or cat need to bring the animal in during their operating hours, along with any records.

“It’s a $10 fee to relinquish the animal to us — a five to 10 minute process,” Stephenson said.

Once the animal is at the shelter, it will be evaluated and then placed up for adoption if it can be adopted — which is dependent on shot records, health of the animal and its temperament.

First-year Jessica Vasquez has a few years before she could adopt a pet, but said she looks forward to it because she likes the companionship.

“They’re cute and fun to play with,” she said. “They’re a lot of responsibility, but they’re fun to have around.”

Vasquez said she personally would be able to take her pet home during the summer, but if relocating for a job created a problem she would do her best to be responsible and find it a good home.

“I would do my best to find a place where I could keep it, but if I couldn’t I probably would give it to a friend to take care of,” she said. “(Abandoning an animal) is not fair to the animals.”

Phillips said students need to practice responsible pet ownership.

“If you know you’re going to leave, you need to start today putting ads in the paper,” Phillips said.