The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Adults should think twice before adopting a ‘starter pet’

There is no such thing as a “starter pet.” The closest thing we have is a houseplant.

“Starter pets” is a phrase that some people use to refer to pets for people — particularly children — to have as their first pet. A lot of the time, animals like fish or hamsters are placed in this particular pet category.

Why these animals? They are small, upkeep is relatively cheap, they have somewhat short lifespans and — this is taken directly from someone’s explanation to me — they are easier to replace. The problem is that animals are not objects, they are living creatures with feelings. We cannot just swap them out for another that looks slightly similar.

I had a fish once upon a time, a goldfish that I won at a local fundraiser night. It spent the night in a Ziploc bag filled with hose water until I was able to get supplies the next morning.

I was 10 years old and thoroughly unprepared for the realities of caring for a fish, yet I found myself with one anyway. That fish lived until I was 17 years old — longer than any of us expected — but that had little to do with me. I fully believe that fish lived that long out of spite.

Keep in mind that I never deliberately mistreated this fish. I really liked having it. But I was far too forgetful to be a responsible fish owner. I would forget to feed it every day and I did not always change the water when I should have. Even though those were the only two responsibilities I had with that fish, I would fail to do them. Why? I was not ready to be a fish owner.

When I was 6 years old, “I” got a dog. I use quotes there because he was not my dog. I loved him with my entire being for the 14 years he lived, but he was not my dog. He was my family’s dog. It was my parents that fed and trained him. He physically outgrew me within the first six months of his life, and I was too flighty to care for him on my own.

I do not regret having either of these animals in my life. I loved both of them deeply. The dog passed away recently, and I was wrecked by that – I still am.

But, I cannot help but wonder whether it was best for them to have ended up with me.

No matter how much I loved them, should I have owned them? I remember a friend in elementary school who had seven hamsters across the span of a year because she kept dropping and killing them before getting new ones. Is the only difference between us the fact that my parents picked up the slack I left in caring for the animals?

There is no such thing as a “starter pet.” Humans are not entitled to animals they cannot care for – and that goes for people of all ages. If you want a pet, try keeping a leafy plant alive for a year first. If you can keep something silent alive for that long, then maybe we can talk about an animal.

About the Contributor
Haylee Morman
Haylee Morman, Staff Writer
Haylee Morman is a senior English major. Haylee is currently a staff writer for The Reflector.
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Reflector Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *