Furry and fuzzy make the best friends

With housing selection coming up finding the perfect roommate has become a priority for many students. Someone who doesn’t take up too much space would be nice. And if they didn’t talk back or start fights, it would be a perfect match.

Suddenly the sounds of soft purring or a friendly bark here and there seem a lot nicer than the loud hum of a blow dryer or the incessant pounding of the bass coming from a stereo.

“I’m getting a cat in the beginning of the summer because I’ve been living by myself for a year and a half and I’d like the company of something that doesn’t talk back,” said junior Alexandra Sabini, who plans to buy her cat from a breeder in New Hampshire when she moves off campus this summer.

While GW has a strict no animal policy in its residence halls, students who live off campus may have the option to own pets.

“I couldn’t live without my dog here,” said law student Josh Schneider. “I rent out the basement of a house up in Northwest and they let me bring my dog down. It works out for the family too because they have two young kids who love to come downstairs and play with him.”

Junior Eve Chrust has had her cat, “Kitten,” for about a year.

“I kind of just wanted a pet, it was the first opportunity I had to get a pet,” she said. “I never had a pet growing up – I kind of got (my cat) on a whim.”

Some students say that a dog or cat is too much of a responsibility and a time commitment for them. As a substitute, they buy pets that require less maintenance and care like fish, small reptiles or hamsters.

“I love my dog more than anything, but I just wouldn’t be able to take care of her properly in my dorm room,” said one sophomore who wished to remain anonymous. “I still wanted to have a pet here though so I purchased to gold fish. They’re quiet and pretty easy to maintain and although you can’t play with them, they help relieve stress.”

Chrust said pets make good company.

“I love having my cat, it’s nice to have a pet to play with when you get home,” Chrust said.

The Washington Humane Society (WHS), the oldest animal protection agency in the District, has many useful resources for people looking to adopt dogs or cats. WHS provides lost, homeless or abused animals with shelter and protection from cruelty. Between 12 and 4 p.m. everyday, the shelter, located at 7319 Georgia Ave., is open for the public to come in and meet the animals.

While animals are featured on the agency’s Web site, people are encouraged to visit the WHS and see the animals for themselves. If they see an animal they are interested in adopting, there is a six step adoption process which includes a visit to the potential adopter’s home, a call to the landlord (if applicable) to make sure pets are allowed and veterinary exam (including spaying or neutering).

The entire application takes about one week to process. When new owners pick up the animals, the adoptive family must sign an adoption agreement and pay cash. Costs range from $55 to $60 for cats and $80 to $100 for dogs.

The Washington Animal Shelter, located at 1201 New York Ave., works with the WHS to adopt cats. WHS Cory Smith said it is difficult for college students to adopt pets.

“We normally don’t (adopt to college students) because college students are so transient,” Smith said.

She said if a college students can prove they have permanent residency and will take the time and effort to care for a pet – from making sure that the pet is well fed to all of the proper shots and vaccinations – the shelters will generally allow students to adopt animals.

“It’s not like we would say ‘no way’ to college students – it’s a matter of how well they can take care of the pet,” Smith said.

Chrust, who got her cat from the Northeast location of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said that she had to fill out forms and applications to ensure her eligibility to adopt a cat.

“Specifically, with cats, they make you sign something (saying) that you won’t de-claw them,” she said. The SPCA also checks the homes and apartments of potential adopters to make sure that it is suitable for a pet.

“It’s a lot of responsibility,” Chrust said. “If you ever want to go away, you have to make sure someone is taking care of (your pet).”

Other students who want a pet but do not want to spend a lot of money or worry about what to do with it if they travel they may want to adopt a cyber pet. Cyber pets are generally free on various Web sites, such as VirtualPuppy.com,

“I have a Neopet, which is an online pet,” freshman Patrick Rose said. “It’s kind of cheesy but it is like having a real pet. Instead of going to work to make money to maintain a pet, I have to play games to win money to buy it virtual food and stuff.”

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