As college campuses end their spring semesters, many students leave their dorms and apartments for the summer. For a few students, the move means leaving their pets behind. For animal welfare workers, the move means fewer potential adoptions. Here’s how several Oklahoma college towns are affected by the annual migration of college students.
StillwaterCollege: Oklahoma State University. Adoptions are highest when college students come back in fall, said officer Carla Meadors of Stillwater Animal Welfare. Many adopters are students, though few students relinquish animals when the school year ends. "The numbers they adopt way outweigh the ones that come back,” Meadors said. "A lot of people think they drop them off or dump them when school’s out, and that’s just not true.”
EdmondCollege: University of Central Oklahoma. Adoptions by college students are steady throughout the year, even in the summer, said Jim Fish, Edmond Animal Welfare supervisor. Many adopters are young students who have moved into their own places for the first time, he said. Most students keep their animals after graduation, Fish said, but some can’t help but relinquish their pets. "I think what complicates things is this is a time in their life and they’re just starting out,” he said. "Anything can happen.”
Oklahoma CityColleges: Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma City Community College, among others. Adoptions usually drop during summer, said Rodney Pesch, unit operations supervisor for Oklahoma City Animal Welfare. "We always kind of slow down in the summer months anyway, especially when the schools let out,” Pesch said. "People seem to have other activities going on. When they come back into school, people get back into a normal routine in the fall ... and our adoptions go up then.”
MuskogeeColleges: Bacone College, Conners State College, Northeastern State University branch. Few college students adopt from the Promoting Animal Welfare Society shelter, Executive Director Dorothy Farmer said. She said she suspects the reason is her strict adoption rules. For example, dogs can only be adopted to homes with fenced yards. Cats must live indoors. The rules are designed to protect the animals and make adopters think twice about their commitment. "There are too many whims and not enough ‘think-about-it-before-you-do-its,’” Farmer said.