San Diego gets crowned “Dog City USA”

There are lists of the best cities for retirees, the best places to be single, and the most affordable cities, but no one seems to ask how the pups feel?

Our friends at scoured the country to come up with some statistics for any dog lover considering relocation.

According to their carefully honed research, including number of dog parks, number of major pet stores, vets per population, pet-friendly city events and varying city pet policies, here are the 2011/2012 top 10 dog friendly cities in the country, crowning our very own San Diego #1 at “Dog City USA”!

#10 Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix has tons of sun—but it also has loads of pet stores, dog parks, and an annual Halloween costume contest. We certainly can’t ignore a city that dresses up its pets, so that lands this sunny state in our No. 10 spot.

No. of dog parks: 6 (all off-leash dog parks)
No. of major pet stores: 14
Approx. No. of veterinarians: 270 per 1.5 million people
Pet-Friendly events: Adopt-a-dog seminars, Halloween costume contests, advanced puppy training, adoptable cats meet and greet
Pet Policies of note: leash laws and other animal control ordinances

#9 Sacramento, California

With over 15 dog parks, an annual fundraising event centered around dogs, and a yearly festival to boot, Sacramento certainly has lots to offer for the pet-lover in you.

No. of dog parks: 8 (7 off-leash parks)
No. of major pet stores: 4
Approx. No. of veterinarians: 95 vets per 490.000
Pet-Friendly events: annual Sacramento SPCA Doggy Dash-a 2k/ 5k walk and big pet festival
Pet Policies of note: mandatory spay-neuter law for dogs and cats, and requires that permit numbers be stated in all advertisements

#8 Forth Worth, Texas

We love a place that enforces the spay and neuter laws as strictly as Forth Worth does (and hosting a Barktoberfest doesn’t hurt, either).

No. of dog parks: 4 ( plus 1 off-leash)
No. of major pet stores: 6
Approx. No. of veterinarians: 150 per 728,000 people
Pet-Friendly events: dog meet up groups, Barktoberfest, dog park events
Pet Policies of note: All female dogs and cats over the age of 6 months and male dogs and cats over the age of 8 months have to be spayed or neutered or the owner must obtain an intact pet permit; a dog, cat or ferret must be vaccinated against rabies by 4 months, receive a booster 12 months after that, and then must be vaccinated at least once every three years

#7 Charlotte, North Carolina

If volunteerism and your furry one are your two favorite things, then Charlotte is the place for you.

Charlotte scores No. 7 on our list for its use of fundraising-loving residents who see activism as yet another way to put their pets in the spotlight.

No. of dog parks: 5 (3 off-leash parks)
No. of major pet stores: 3
Approx. No. of veterinarians: 160 vets per 760,000 people
Pet-Friendly events: Two annual fundraisers (one of which is Pet Palooza, where dog owners can do a fundraising walk or run a 5k with their canine and also enjoy a Fido fashion show and agility demonstrations), Ties & Tails Gala, and pet-friendly businesses like Canine Café and Dog Bar
Pet Policies of note: leash laws, permits, rabies vaccination laws, and all dogs, cats, and ferrets four months and older must be licensed annually

#6 Tucson, Arizona

Tucson scores the No. 6 spot because of its combination of vets per population, pet-friendly events and number of dog parks.

No. of dog parks: 10
No. of major pet stores: 9
Approx. No. of veterinarians: 200+ per 487,000 people
Pet-Friendly events: The Puttin’ on the Dog Tucson Cover Dog Search, Chow Down for Hounds, Paws in the Plaza, Tails and Ales, Paws for the Holidays, and quite a few others
Pet policies of note: Basic leash laws and anti-cruelty laws

#5 Denver, Colorado

Head to Denver for tons of great outdoor activities for dogs, including the canine festival and the European market.

No. of dog parks: 20 + (8 off-leash parks)
No of major pet stores: 4
Approx. No. of veterinarians: 220 vets per 612,000 people
Pet-Friendly events: puppy preschool training classes, canine festival and European market, doggie meet ups
Pet Policies of note: must license pets over 6 months old, animal cruelty and abandonment laws, excrement removal

#4 Minneapolis, Minnesota

With over 200 great vets in the area, there will always be someone here to look after your furry (or scaly) friend.

No. of dog parks: 10 (plus 5 off-leash parks)
No. of major pet stores: 2
Approx. No of veterinarians: 200 per 370,000 people
Pet-Friendly events: Animal Humane Society has three pet friendly fundraising events each year, as well as two formal dining events each year. In February there is another dining event at the Depot in Downtown Minneapolis coined “party for people and their pups.” It is the only formal dining event in Minneapolis where dogs are invited to attend with their owners, and they get a meal.
Pet Policies of note: licenses required for dogs, cats, ferrets and rabbits, rabies vaccinations required for dogs, cats and ferrets, a permit is needed for more than three

#3 Seattle, Washington

Who doesn’t love a town where they have a whole Halloween event set specifically to your pet’s schedule? And as if that wasn’t enough, every day is pet day at one of the over 40 dog parks in the area.

No. of dog parks: 40 (10 off-leash parks)
No. of major pet stores: 5
Approx. No. of veterinarians: 172 vets per 580,000
Pet-Friendly events: Put O Ween event (Seattle Pug Rescues annual Halloween party), puppy playtime events, national adoption week
Pet Policies of note: Dogs and cats older than 8 weeks require licensing

#2 Dallas, Texas

Along with its good ole’ southern charm, you’ll find a pet-friendly activity of every variety here. From pet expos to Christmas Country dog events, every time of year is pet time for Dallas residents.

No. of dog parks: Approx. 22 (2 off-leash parks)
No. of major pet stores: 7
Approx. No. of veterinarians: 270 per 1.3 million people
Pet-Friendly events: Plenty of pet expos, National Animal Shelter appreciation week party and open house, Christmas country dog events, walk wag and run event, Walk to Nowzad (fundraised money from this event goes to Nowzad, a charity that helps bring dogs and cats to the homes of the soldiers who have befriended them while they are serving in Afghanistan), Barktoberfest, Dog Walk Around the Lake, and many others

#1 San Diego, California

What sets San Diego apart from the rest (above and beyond its tons of off-leash parks and dog-friendly beaches) are the heaps of pet-friendly hotels and dog-friendly restaurants.

Not only do San Diego residents love their own pets—their welcome yours to their hood as well.

No. of dog parks: 10+ (9 off-leash parks, as well as many dog-friendly beaches)
No. of major pet stores: 8
Approx. No. of veterinarians: 800 per 1.3 million people
Pet-Friendly events: Over 50 restaurants in San Diego allow dogs on their patios, and many local businesses offer biscuits, water, or other amenities for Fido while she’s shopping with her mom. There are 60+ dog-friendly hotels, and many hiking trails and parks that are open to dogs.
Pet Policies of note: There are many San Diego city laws for the protection of animals, including rabies vaccination laws, enclosure laws, and feeding and watering and sanitation requirement at kennels. The city is also currently looking to pass a law prohibiting the sale of all animals, including dogs, in public places, such as parking lots and swap meets.

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