LOS ANGELES – College students in many U.S. cities don't just say goodbye to their friends at the end of the spring semester; they also say goodbye to their pets. Responsibility is a lesson some college pet owners didn't learn in class this year.
"They're kids, they're learning about responsibility. They're dreamers; they sometimes don't understand the reality of leaving a pet behind on the street, or to fend for itself, or to die in someone's backyard," said Madeline Bernstein (search), president of the Los Angeles branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (search).
College student Michael Owen said neglecting and abandoning pets is a problem among his classmates.
"I had a friend get a pit bull. He wanted a pit bull. Wanted to be 'Mr. Cool', tough guy with the pit bull — he did everything but put a bullet in that dog's head," said Owen.
Many students don't realize their cruelty to animals when they pack their bags and leave their pet behind to fend for itself.
"College students leave town and sometimes they leave their dogs behind in their apartments, figuring they'll fare OK by themselves, someone will take care of them, someone will pick them up," said Bernstein.
Owen was one of the few people who did pick up an abandoned dog. He found a young Rottweiller wandering around campus, took it home and nursed it back to health.
"I'm very fortunate I picked her up and found her, she's been one of the best friends I've ever had," Owen said.
But not all strays are fortunate enough to be rescued from the street. Most face starvation, disease, and danger from cars and other animals. The dogs that make it to shelters are the lucky ones.
Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Anita Vogel.