Are Pet-Friendly Cities Really Pet-Friendly?

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August 2020

Earlier this month, Wallethub came out with a long list of the top pet-friendly cities in the United States. Lists like this give us all the warm fuzzies because we love it if our local communities support the bond between dogs and their people. There’s just one problem with lists like these, they often include some of the least pet-friendly cities in the country. 

Wallethub’s methodology is pretty robust, even looking at the cost of veterinary care and animal protection laws. What they completely ignored is whether or not a city has breed-specific legislation. In other words, they forgot that some locales are downright unfriendly to, and will even kill, some people’s dogs.

The list of pet-friendly cities is long and no cities with breed-specific legislation crack the top 10, which is good, but some of the places with the worst BSL laws make the top 20, like Miami, FL, which comes it at number 16. Since 1989, the county of Miami-Dade has banned American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and any dog that physically resembles these breeds. Their ban is based solely on unscientific visual identification and does not take into account owner responsibility or the behavior of the dog. 

Denver, CO makes an appearance at number 24. The city has had a “pit bull” dog ban since 1989, though it was briefly suspended in 2004 only to be reinstated in 2005. Another Colorado city unfriendly to dogs and their people ranks in at number 88 – Aurora. That’s incredibly low on the list to be sure, but a city that bans dogs based on known or assumed breed has no business being on a list of pet-friendly cities.

Why It Matters

We know that a lot of people have an impulse to ignore something like this and even to wonder what the big deal is. It’s just a silly listicle, right? But it’s not a silly listicle to the thousands of dog owners who have to choose between their family member and their home because of breed-specific legislation. These dog owners feel unheard by society at large while they continue to have their rights violated.  

We should all care about this and it shouldn’t be ignored in the name of a few extra website clicks on a listicle. How impactful would it have been for Wallethub or any site that puts together lists like this to call out locations that have breed-specific legislation in place?  

Until all dogs and their people are seen as individuals, cities like Denver, Miami, and Aurora should never be called pet-friendly.  

At Animal Farm Foundation, we’re working to dismantle BSL by helping dog owners advocate for themselves within the legal system. You can read about that here

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