Here you are, a young adult in college, out on your own in a new city for the first time. Some students celebrate their newfound independence by adopting a pet. But with a new pet comes new responsibilities. Before you hit up the local animal shelter or call for one of those free puppies or kittens advertised in the paper, there are several important things to consider. Pets have the basic requirements of humans — they need fresh food, shelter, medical care, and plain old TLC. Are you really ready for responsible pet ownership? Take this quiz and find out.
1. Why do you want a pet?
a. For companionship
b. Because all my cool friends have pets
c. It might help me pick up that hottie at Marion Square
2. What type of pet do you want?
a. A hamster or gerbil … something self-contained that dwells in a cage
b. A dog or cat … something warm and furry that runs around the house
c. A snake or lizard — they’re awesome
3. How much does it cost to responsibly house and care for a pet the first year?
a. A few bucks a week
b. About a hundred smackers
c. Next to nothing
4. Where do you live?
a. Dorm or campus housing
b. An apartment or condo
c. A free-standing house with fenced-in yard
5. How many kittens can be produced between two unfixed cats and their offspring in seven years?
6. By law, what is the punishment for animal abandonment in South Carolina?
a. $200-500 fine
b. 30 days in prison
c. 30 lashes
7. What is the average life span for a pet?
a. Three years
b. Two decades
c. No one knows
1. Incorrect answer: C
To quote Kay Hyman of the John Ancrum SPCA on James Island, a puppy “is not just a chick magnet.” Sure, little Fido might help some in the babe department, but who is going to feed and walk him while you’re partying all weekend with the girls you met Friday afternoon?
2. None of the above
At the end of every college year, shelters receive dozens of pets from college students who leave for the summer. It’s not just your average animal, but a number of “exotics,” like snakes, rabbits, guinea pigs, and ferrets. A snake might seem like a wicked-cool pet, but your Mom might not want you to tote it home for the holidays.
3. Correct answer: A, B, and C
There are a lot of hidden costs to pet care. Food, apartment fees, toys, and medical care, such as up-to-date jabs and checks can add up. If you’re barely surviving on 10-cent packs of Ramen noodles, chances are you can’t afford to feed a pet. According to the ASPCA (www.aspca.org) it costs a responsible pet owner about $235 annually to care for fish, $715 for a cat, and $1,190 for a medium-sized dog.
4. If you answered A, you’re plumb out of luck. All College of Charleston housing forbids owning pets. Some apartment complexes don’t allow pets, and others do, with an additional fee. Furthermore, most complexes will have certain rules or restrictions, so be sure to do your homework.
5. Correct answer: C
The City of Charleston has thousands of stray cats and dogs wandering the streets.
6. Correct answers: A and B
Animal abandonment in South Carolina is defined as “deserting, forsaking, or intending to give up absolutely an animal without securing another owner or without providing the necessities of life.” What’s more, it’s a misdemeanor. If you have an animal you simply can’t care for, or if you know of a local stray, the John Ancrum SPCA shelter accepts these animals seven days a week.
7. Correct answer: None of the above
The average lifespan of a dog is 12.8 years. For cats, it’s 15 years. For gerbils, it’s five years. Whatever plans you’ve made for the future should include a safe home for your animal.