Cats and hedgehogs and RAs, oh my!
By Janie Frank
“Have you met Henry yet?”, a girl in Professor Wulff’s Fall 2013 nutrition class asked her friend.
“My hedgehog, Henry.” The two laughed. The girl told funny stories about Henry the hedgehog – how he curled up in a ball in her hand, how he slept in the pockets of her hoodies, and how much he loved treats.
“What happens if your RA finds out,” the friend asked.
The girl shrugged.
“My roommate is the RA. She loves him.”
Tropical fish are the only types of pets allowed in dorms, according to the Department of Residential Life Terms and Conditions of the University Residence Halls. But that doesn’t stop many students, including Resident Assistants (RAs), from purchasing other kinds of pets to live in their rooms with them.
Many students who spoke to the ASP on the condition of anonymity admitted to having pets like rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, and cats while on campus. One student even reported owning a dog.
When a student is found to be in possession of an animal other than a tropical fish, it is up to the Department of Residential Life to make sure the student gets rid of the creature.
“The [RA will] tell them to remove them if they’re not legal,” a ResLife spokesperson said. “They have 24 hours.”
RAs are not allowed to comment on this topic.
The Mohawk & Hudson River Humane Society adopted out 3,600 pets last year, but they will not allow college students living on campus to adopt.
Michael Buckley, the director of development, says they have not historically seen a lot of animals being surrendered by students who could not keep them in their dorms.
“If someone says they live in a dorm in UAlbany, we will not adopt to them,” Buckley said. “Certainly, there are good pets for college students as long as you live in an environment that can have one. One of the residence halls is not a good environment.”
However, this does not always stop students from adopting new pets. Some students will lie about their address, or use the address of a friend who lives off campus.
Students who do not live on campus adopt pets as well.
“If students live off campus, it’s hard because they give us their address and it’s hard to know if they’re a student or not,” Buckley said.
Whether or not a student lives on campus, taking care of a pet is a difficult feat.
Avita Tarachand, a senior at UAlbany, has lived off campus for the last two years. She adopted a Yorkie a year and a half ago.
“It’s very hard. I feel bad sometimes,” Tarachand said. “I wish I could take him outside more. When I’m not home my housemates are there but they don’t really play with him so it’s sad.”
Buckley stressed that adopting a pet is not a decision that should be taken lightly.
“It takes a lot of work. It’s a big commitment. It’s a big financial commitment and it’s a big time commitment,” he said.
This is true for almost every animal, regardless of how easy it may seem to take care of one. For example, many people say cats are low maintenance, but Buckley said that is not the case.
“I don’t think people oftentimes, no matter what age they are, realize how much work having an animal can be,” Buckley said. “Get a fish if you do decide to get an animal.”