According to Livability.com, the pet-friendliest cities in the U.S., cities that also offer “an exceptionally high quality of life for the owners who love those pets” are:
- Portland, Ore.
- Colorado Springs, Colo.
- Rocky Mount, N.C.
- Boulder, Colo.
- Santa Cruz, Calif.
- Eugene, Ore.
- Asheville, N.C.
- Albuquerque, N.M.
- Nashville, Tenn.
- Louisville, Ky.
According to Livability.com:
“These cities have pet friendly parks and trails, quality veterinary care, active animal welfare groups, as well as an abundance of pet boutiques and retail shops.”
It’s difficult to know exactly how these 10 cities earned the Livability.com ‘pet-friendly’ stamp. I’m sure many of you who don’t reside in one of the 10 listed could argue convincingly for your own location.
In my view, any community with an abundance of knowledgeable, dedicated pet parents, healthcare practitioners and other pet advocates and caretakers, is not only pet-friendly, but more importantly, pet-aware.
Some of the things that qualified the 10 cities for top honors make sense, from my perspective. Others, not so much.
Your dog, cat or other pet is in fact another species – not a furry, feathered or finned human, nor a dress-up doll. My concern with some of the qualifiers in the Livability.com list is they lend themselves to either:
- Viewing companion animals as people or toys.
- Substituting human-oriented pampering for meeting the natural, biological needs of pets.
Animals should be understood and appreciated for the species they belong to, and as individuals within that species.
Your dog, for example, doesn’t really need gourmet doggy biscuits, a tiny pair of rain boots, or a stay at a luxury pet hotel.
What your canine companion really needs:
- Species-appropriate food and fresh water
- Plenty of exercise and play time
- Safe, warm, dry living quarters
- Opportunities to express his breed characteristics – working, herding, etc.
- Socialization and obedience training
- Help from you with things like dental care, brushing his coat, frequent baths
- Regular wellness visits to an integrative/holistic veterinarian, at least yearly and ideally, every six months
- Your love, attention and devotion for a lifetime
What I Would Include in a Pet-Friendly, Pet-Aware Community
If I had the opportunity to design a pet-friendly community it would have:
- Enough licensed veterinarians, including specialists (anesthesiologists, dermatologists, emergency and critical care, ophthalmologists, radiologists, surgeons, etc.) to adequately service the community.
- At least a few veterinarians who do house calls, including those willing to perform at-home euthanasia services.
- A good balance of DVM’s who practice holistic or integrative medicine. These are practitioners who have advanced education and training in one or several areas of complementary medicine (acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, homeopathy, herbs, nutrition, etc.).
- An adequate number of well-equipped, 24-hour emergency veterinary clinics.
- A supply of competent certified animal behaviorists and trainers.
- Animal shelters and rescue organizations with the resources to provide good healthcare, rehabilitative support and behavior modification to pets in need of forever homes.
- Butchers, grocers, local farmers and other grocery resources that cater to pet owners who want to feed their four-legged family members fresh, living foods.
- Educated, well-informed pet supply stores that stock a variety of healthy prepared or semi-prepared foods.
- Well-attended community-based continuing education for pet owners in everything from puppy socialization to obedience training to agility trials to how to give a pet a massage.
- Plenty of well-maintained off-leash dog parks, hiking trails, river, lake or beachfronts and other natural, open settings where friendly, obedient, healthy dogs can exercise, play, socialize, and just be dogs. Indoor facilities for these activities, if the city is very cool or very hot for part of year, are also a welcome addition.
- Clean, safe, well-staffed, pet-centered boarding and day care facilities for pet parents who need to leave their furry family member behind for a few days or a few hours.
- An adequate number of competent, qualified pet sitters who are available to care for animals at home.
- Experienced pet groomers, a few of whom have shops-on-wheels.
- Hotels, motels, RV parks and campgrounds that allow pets.
Pamper Your Animal Like the Animal She Is
Imagine if someone invited you for a day of ‘pampering’ that included chasing mice and climbing onto high perches for a nap … or retrieving a ball thrown over and over and over.
You’d probably decline the invitation to be ‘pampered’ like a cat or dog and head off instead for a relaxing massage.
There’s nothing wrong with indulging your pet with non-essentials, as long they’re not a substitute for giving her what she needs to live a healthy, balanced life as the animal she was born to be.