So you and your best bud have decided to become roommates and rent an apartment. How exciting! What could be better than getting a pet to celebrate the new apartment and cement your friendship? While it may look like a good idea on the surface, it’s going to take some great planning and mutual understanding to make it successful and keep both you and your new pet happy. Let’s have a look at some of the FAQs we get asked about with this kind of thing.
Who really owns the pet? Have you ever heard the expression, “the piece of paper always wins?” It basically means that a written signature on paper is going to win over any verbal agreements you may claim to have. So whose name is on the adoption paperwork? Whose name is on the dog license with your local Municipality? Whose name appears on the veterinarian records? Sounds like a lot to think about right? This can become really confusing if different names are on different registrations listed above. The solution? Talk about it with your new roomy before you get the pet. Decide who will be the one person listed on all the paperwork with the understanding that if anything goes wrong, this is the person who will end up with the pet and all the responsibilities that go with it.
What if there is an emergency? We all hope that we won’t have to experience an emergency, but the reality is that it could happen! Having a pet with a roommate is a great situation for you to think about pet insurance. It can be a real lifesaver if you don’t have money saved up for vet emergencies! At least with pet insurance all you have to worry about is what you should do to treat emergency problems. That’s going to be enough to handle at the moment without having to make financial decisions too.
Okay, so let’s talk about something less dramatic – what to feed your furry friend and who adopts it? Set out a game plan in advance – maybe swap out every month and talk over what you both think is a good diet to feed your pet (you can also chat with your veterinarian about this). Also on a day-to-day basis, who disciplines the pet if they chew on something or have a leaky bladder episode? This is where keeping those lines of communication open are going to be really important. Talk it over early what you’re going to do if you encounter the common problems. Chewing is big one – what would you do differently if the pet chewed up some shared furniture versus chewing up one roommates favourite sweater? It may seem trivial until it happens and everyone is really upset. Some good advice? Talk over some basic ground rules before you need them.
Lastly, what happens if something goes wrong and you and your best bud aren’t really best buds anymore, or it’s the end of the school year – who gets the final responsibility of the pet? If it’s the end of the school year, then hopefully you’ll be coming back in the fall with the same roommate for the next year. But if people are graduating or you split up for good, then what happens? Several Ontario SPCA Communities have to deal with abandoned pets or surrendered pets that they just adopted out eight months earlier. Again, pet ownership is something to talk over while you’re still talking and communicating well. Make a plan just in case things don’t go as well as they are right now… just in case.
So what are we trying to say here? In the end, we’re not saying that it can’t be done – it’s just that it takes great planning, being mature and keeping the lines of communication open between you and your roommate to make for a great rewarding pet experience. Try to remember to always put your pet’s needs and wants first over any problems you may have living with a roommate, big or small!