Stop taking in animals you can’t afford

Photo Courtesy by Corey Motta

The holidays are approaching and all should be safe and warm. The weather has dropped, we’ve finished the last of the Turkey and “Jingle Bells” is playing. Yet while we sit inside by the fire, stray animals wander the street, cold and searching for a home. And although these animals deserve shelter, students should be cautious about taking these animals in. One student on Georgia State’s Clarkston campus will agree.

During a musical, “The Theory of Relativity”, hosted by The Theatre Arts Guild on Clarkston several student actors were approached by a stray pitbull. The students were fearful the pitbull would die from starvation and the rain, so they took the pitbull in. The dog traveled from several different homes among the students and eventually ended up with Khaliah Daniels who named the pitbull Zoe.

Daniels is a theater major on the Clarkston campus. She lives at home with her mother and works as a student assistant in the Fine Arts Department. Khaliah says she took Zoe in because she felt compelled to. She lost her dog of twelve years earlier in July this year and said “[her] heart wouldn’t let her leave the dog out in the cold.”
Daniels’ mother was reluctant to having the pitbull in the home. Her mother was fearful of Zoe because she was “big”. But Daniels, fearful “the pound” would put Zoe down, convinced her mother they should keep the dog. However, Zoe was quite aggressive and appeared to suffer from separation anxiety. Daniels said the dog would destroy her room when she left for school, she’d poop in her shoes and she would bark viciously at Daniels. Unable to provide Zoe with proper care, Daniels called around to shelters to find a stable home for Zoe. The type of pain and trauma these animals have experienced is beyond our expertise. These animals belong in shelters where they can receive proper care and attention. These stray animals have likely been living on the street long before we’ve come in contact with them. Stray animals may not only have mental illnesses from living on the street but they may also have a plethora of diseases.

Students may feel they are being noble by taking in a stray dog or cat, however, taking the animal to a shelter before taking it to your home is a safe option. Taking the animal to the shelter also provides students with the opportunity to get the animal tested to prevent the spread of diseases to your friends and family. These animals may carry several parasites such as: fleas, ticks, heartworms and tapeworms. These types of parasites are not visible to the naked eye. These parasites can travel from dogs to humans. These animals are also in contact with several other wild and untreated animals such as squirrels and raccoons that carry rabies. Rabies can also be transferred to humans and it is potentially deadly.

“I was very overwhelmed with taking care of Zoe and going to school and working,” Daniels said. Shortly after taking Zoe in, reality hit for Daniels and she realized she couldn’t do it all. Going to school full time and working part time leaves little time to take care of an animal – especially a stray.

The high cost of animal cares should also elicit caution when taking in a stray. While Daniels only spent $35 in the two weeks that she had Zoe, she said “it would’ve gotten very expensive quickly.” Daniels was fortunate to already have food bowls and toys from another dog; however, most students don’t.

The American Society for the Prevention and Cruelty to Animals created a list of pet care expenses for taking care of an animal in the first year. The list shows the cost of pet insurance, spaying and neutering and other miscellaneous costs. Students who find a stray animal and don’t have the appropriate items to care for an animal will ultimately break the bank trying to help. The cost of cages, monthly or weekly dog food (depending on size of the dog and their diet, toys and monthly visits to the vet and grooming can add up quickly. With the high cost of care for animals, the unknown diseases they carry and trying to balance work and school, it would be best to wait to take in another animal.