The price you pay for ‘man’s best friend’
by Heather Penn
The Sun Star
Want to have a pet in UAF housing? You can, but it will cost you. The owners of UAF’s 36 registered pets not only have to pay a $300 administration and cleaning fee, they also have to slap down an extra $1,000 for purposes UAF officials can’t quite define.
Last year UAF collected $46,800 in pet related fees.
If you are a pet owner and live in on-campus housing, chances are you have already paid the $1,300 deposit required of the owner. The charge is both the $300 non-refundable fee and the $1,000 refundable fee, totaling $1,300. Part of the non-refundable $300 goes towards the cleaning of the rented property. A standard cleaning would be vacuuming, moping, dusting, etc. but a more thorough cleaning may be needed if the pet soiled the carpets or sprayed walls. If a more thorough cleaning is necessary it may then be determined that some if not all of the $1,000 refundable portion be used. University officials could not come up with an instance where a “pet accident” would cost anywhere near $1,000.
According to the lease agreement from the UAF Department of Residence Life, the $300 admin fee is used to “cover the administration costs of the pet program including staff time to conduct inspections, investigate complaints, verify health information and implement the registration process.”
Some of the administration duties include, “the initial time spent processing the pets on campus and keeping pet records current,” Anna Gagne-Hawes, family and employee graduate of non-traditional student housing coordinator, said. “We ensure each pet is spayed or neutered and up to date on shots and then we input all that data into three separate spreadsheets and finally into the housing software,” Gagne-Hawes said. It is unclear if the checks for vaccinations was continued after the initial in processing.
The $1,000 fee is collected upon signing of the lease. The money is then deposited into UAF’s Banner System account. “The Banner account runs and works like a typical deposit account,” Gagne-Hawes said. When the $1,000 is collected, it is deposited into the account where it sits and waits until the occupants move out. Despite potential for unconfirmed interest to accrue, the owner only receives the initial $1,000 deposit, no matter if it is months or years of occupancy. Where or who gets the possible interest from these fees was not able to be tracked.
If upon exit of the residence it is deemed necessary for additional cleaning or damage repair caused by the pet’s presence, the monies are then deducted and the remaining funds are refunded. According to the Residence Life lease, “This deposit will not be returned until an inspection of the apartment is completed. The return of deposit will occur only after an inspection that is conducted three-to-five days after the unit is vacated.”
“We paid it,” Sarah Maio, whose husband is a UAF professor and lives in faculty housing, said. “We understand why the fee is there, but it was hard to come up with.”
The pet policy currently in use is considered a test policy and is ever evolving, Gagne-Hawes said. Pets became eligible to live on campus in the spring of 2011. The fees associated with this policy were initially implemented by former director Kevin Huddy. The initial program was a test program to see if there would be any major problems with having pets on campus. Those problems could range from aggressive dogs to destructive cats and anything in between.
The department reserves the right to end a policy, restrict the amount of pets at one particular housing area or limit the total amount of pets on campus at any given time.
Family and faculty housing are the only areas on campus to permit larger animals such as cats and dogs. Otherwise, fish are allowed most anywhere as long as the tank capacity does not exceed 10 gallons. Small caged animals and fish are exempt from the pet fee, per the Res Life lease agreement. Though a limit of two small caged animals is enforced, there is no fee associated with these smaller animals because there is no need to register and vaccinate them.
Pet deposits around Fairbanks tend to be much lower than those for UAF. The apartment complex “Yak Estates,” located off of Chena Ridge charges $300 for the first pet and $100 for each additional pet. If the pets are approved, a $25 registration fee is then required.
The military base Fort Wainwright charges $250 per pet. Residents may have only two domestic pets per household. Any and all fees associated with pet related damages are the sole responsibility of the service member, but no additional fee is collected at time of registration. Neither of these places charges near what UAF does.
“There was no initial cost for us to have pets at our place,” Amber Ivie, who rents a private residence off campus, said, “but we are liable for any pet related damages when our lease is up.” Ivie is the wife of a UAF student who frequently brings her dog for walks on the UAF campus.
For those choosing to continue with the process of keeping a pet on campus they may be subjected to short-notice inspections in their units for pet related damages. Not adhering to pet policy may lead the resident to be evicted from campus housing. With no clear reason, the price of friendship on campus is high for man’s best friend.