What Makes a City or Town Pet-Friendly

What Makes a City or Town Pet-Friendly

Hometowns can be a very sacred thing. People love to safeguard where they are from and represent their community in a variety of ways.

When people are looking for a new town to call home, often they are looking at a variety of factors: price, average income of the area, school systems, commutability, etc. But one of the best perks of a hometown can be how dog-friendly it is!

What exactly makes a city or hometown pet-friendly?

Each year, publications around the nation compile lists of the most pet-friendly cities in America. But each list uses a menagerie of factors to determine which cities win the coveted title of “Most Pet-Friendly City in America.” Today, I would like to explore some of the factors outlined by WalletHub in their study based on 21 metrics, so that you can determine how dog-friendly your hometown is even if it isn’t already listed.

Two years ago WalletHub put together a list of the Top 100 most dog-friendly cities, and the Top 100 least dog-friendly. Their ranking included “Pet Budget”, “Pet Healthcare & Wellness”, and “Pet Outdoor Environment and Amusement.”

When examining the budget section, they looked at the following criteria:

  • Veterinary Care Costs
  • Minimum Pet-Care Provider Rate per Visit
  • Dog Insurance Premiums

This is so interesting. Many pet parents know that veterinary care costs vary significantly depending on location, however, people are often unaware of how that affects their dog insurance premiums. Perhaps when you evaluate the dog-friendliness of your current hometown (or maybe a future city you might move to), it would be wise to reach out to veterinary hospitals in the area to get a sense of their prices, and check with your pet insurance company to see how a move would affect your premiums.

In the “Pet Health & Wellness” section WalletHub measured the following criteria:

  • Veterinarians Per Capita
  • Pet Caretakers Per Capita
  • Pet Businesses per Capita
  • Pet-Friendly Restaurants per Capita
  • Share of Pet-Friendly Hotels
  • Pet Meetup Groups per Capita
  • Pet-Friendliness of Rental Market
  • Average Home Square Footage
  • Share of Households Living in Single Family Detached Housing Units
  • Share of Homes with One or Fewer Occupants per Room
  • Animal Shelters per Capita
  • Strength of Animal Protection Laws

I really like the criteria they selected above. Particularly because they take into account the protection laws for animals in the area. Of course, pet services and pet-friendly businesses make a huge difference, but if a location has actually changed their legislation, I think that makes a strong statement of how people in that area value animals in their lives.

Additionally, they did a great job of compiling housing data that isn’t specifically pet-related, but does correlate strongly with people’s ability to have a pet in their lives. For example, the “Share of Households Living in Single Family Detached Housing Units” is a great metric to determine how many people have backyards and space for dogs to be outside.

I am so excited that they included the “Pet Meetup Groups per Capita” as a metric. While solitude with Rooney on a walk is an amazing thing, I love the fact that we get to participate in Corgi Meetups and meet other pet parents with similar interests. I definitely think that metric adds to the dog-friendliness of a city.

The last set of metrics that they analyzed was the “Outdoor Pet-Friendliness.” Here are the criteria outlined by WalletHub:

  • Weather
  • Dog Parks Per Capita
  • Parkland as Share of City Area
  • Walk Score
  • Pet-Friendly Trails per Capita
  • Dog Shows per Capita

This category can be highly influenced by your state. For example, outside of the Sierras the weather in California can be pretty temperate (with the exception of some hot summer days).

I really enjoyed the fact that they considered parkland in general, not just dog parks. While dog parks can be fun, they aren’t for every dog, so having access to other parks and trails can be very important.

Overall I think WalletHub did an excellent job compiling a list of criteria that can truly affect whether or not a city is pet-friendly. If you are looking for a new place to call home, or you are curious about how your hometown ranks, I recommend using their methodology to measure the dog-friendliness of the city you are interested in.

Check out the winners of WalletHub’s ranking here. How did your hometown rank?

Rachel Sheppard

Rachel Sheppard is the author and founder of My Kid Has Paws. She is a Social Media Manager, blogger, corgi mom, animal lover, volunteer, graduate student, and shoe collector.

After graduating from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science & Management, she worked as a Veterinary Assistant for 3 years. Her daily interactions with pet parents inspired her to start her blog focused on pet health, pet rescue, and pet products. She has a true enthusiasm for veterinary medicine and animal science, and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences with pet parents.

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