Shelter Alleges Students Abandoning Pets

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Shelter Alleges Students Abandoning Pets

Hana Zherka ’22, Contributing Writer

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Cat Rescuer Shawna Scherer of Furry Friends Network has alleged that Dickinson College students are abandoning cats adopted as pets for the academic year when they leave for the summer. Scherer explained that the Furry Friends Network developed this allegation based on their observation of a spike in the local stray cat population every year around May when students leave for summer break.

Furry Friends Network is a non-profit organization where people can adopt or foster pets. The organization also offers spade and neuter services for wild pets, according to the Furry Friends Networks website.

Scherer explained that students often adopt the cats with good intentions; the students believe themselves to be giving the cats a proper home. However, “they’re not thinking about what comes after,” Scherer said. When the cats are abandoned at the end of the year, cats face starvation, fleas and viruses. Summer has a high risk of starvation for cats as “normally cats would eat from the garbage cans, but when everyone moves out, that food source is gone,” Scherer said. Students do not find required information about what will happen to the animal if they cannot take it home with them, so the cats also lose their shelter in the summer months and are found on roads.

Students, however, deny the allegations. “I don’t see it as a problem, they’re like squirrels,” said Veronica Galban ’22.

Sarah Ursini ’20 took in a cat in her sophomore year and kept her in a McKenny suite for the rest of the semester before bringing it home. She said it was easy to keep her cat in the suite-style living because of the lack of RAs. “I loved coming home to her at the end of the day,” Sarah said, “It’s just nice to have a companion like that […] a fish can only do so much.” 

Ursini explained that she knows of plenty of people clandestine house pets at Dickinson, especially amphibians who need to be kept in cages. Victoria Dionisis ’22 said she “100% support[s] [pet adoption]. If it’s in your room and you’re taking care of it, what’s the harm?” Ursini continued that cats are largely self-sufficient and do not make a mess.

Ursini explained that other student who have kept pets have been caught. “They got found out by someone,” Ursini said, “and they got an email that said, ‘You need to get rid of the animal within a week, and we’re going to do a check after that, there’s going to be a problem.’” Ursini said this was problematic because she had to take in the cat. She found this very problematic because, if she hadn’t been there to take in the person’s cat on the day they were inspected, the cat would have ended up on the streets.  

According to the Residential Living Guideline on Pets of Residence Life and Housing, students may not keep any animals in a residence hall unless it is a non-carnivorous fish in a 20 gallon or less tank. According to the Dickinson College website, students can be billed for damages caused by pets, and animals can be removed by animal control services if not removed in a “timely manner.”

Scherer explained that “getting a cat into the Furry Friends program through owner surrender would take about two months.”