Living: Pets: To have or not to have?

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Pets can be “man’s best friend” but a GPA’s worst nightmare.

By Ian Coleman

Students wishing to spend time with a “furry friend” can volunteer at a local shelter or join the foster program.

Experts say this may be better than owning a pet because academic pursuits should come first.

Seamus Nelson, director of communication of the San Antonio Humane Society, described the foster program as a “great opportunity to see what it’s like to have a pet on a temporary basis.”

The San Antonio Humane Society will provide foster families with all the supplies they need such as food, litter, toys, bedding and even medical care.

Students should not be pet owners in college, Geraldo R. Guerra, coordinator of the student learning assistance center, said.

Guerra said college students have too many things going on to take care of a pet.

“For each class a student is in, two to three hours of studying is recommended outside of class,” Guerra said.

He advises students to weigh the responsibility that comes with a pet against the responsibility of college and a job.

Nelson, a former adjunct of business and professional communication at this college, said, “Owning a pet is a big challenge, but it is also rewarding. It is not impossible to be a good pet owner while in college, but it is certainly a big challenge.”

He encourages students to consider their housing, finances and schedule before adopting.

“In graduate school, I was on campus 12 hours a day, four days a week. Also I had a part-time job, was teaching and a reservist in the Navy,” he said.

With this in mind, Nelson said getting a pet while in college can be a disservice to the student’s academics and the pet’s quality of life.

He recommends students first get their degree and a full-time job before they consider pet adoption.

For more information on the pet foster program, visit


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