How much is that doggie in the window? Five dollars, and you don’t have to feed it, clean up after it, or even keep it. Monday’s Rent-A-Dog activity on the Cut allowed students to rent dogs for 30 minutes, during which time they could play with them and walk them around the area.
Though it might have seemed like a good idea in theory, renting animals is offensive and ultimately pointless. Many students were disturbed at the thought of giving the dogs, which came from the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, the illusion of having owners, when at the end of the day they would only be returning to the kennels. Additionally, some felt that Rent-A-Dog devalued the dogs, taking them from “man’s best friend” to rentable commodities, akin to consumer goods like cars, apartments, or tuxedos.
Dogs in kennels benefit from socializing, learning to interact with people and act appropriately in public, but this could have been accomplished without any animals getting rented. The event would have been much more successful without the $5 price tag and 30-minute time period; the Humane Society could have just brought their dogs to our campus, encouraging students to play with them while also offering information about volunteer opportunities. Alternatively, the Humane Society could have advertised around our campus, using that means to attract students to come visit the dogs.
Aside from the Fluffys and Rovers they left at home, most college students aren’t interested in owning pets of their own. However, many students are interested in community service. If the Humane Society reached out to our campus community, it would surely find support in the form of both donations and volunteers — no Rent-A-Dog gimmick required.