Stumped on where to live with your dog? This list should help!
Dogs are wonderful pets. They’re the most popular pets in both the United States and the United Kingdom, which says a lot. Dogs are wonderful and loyal companions who will do almost anything to please their owners. Many breeds are smart, and most are extremely athletic. Dogs serve a number of purposes. While they are mainly companions to people or families, dogs are also police and military officers, guides, hunters, and herders. While they are definitely popular across the U.S., there are some states where dogs are more welcome than others. Here’s a list of some of the most dog-friendly states in America.
(Graphics by Emme Chadwick)
While Oregon held the top spot a year ago, Maine has become the friendliest state for pets in general, especially dogs. Maine has no BSLs, or breed-specific legislation (as do a few other states on this list, but more on that later), which is great for people who love all dogs. BSLs are laws that discriminate against certain dog breeds, like pit bulls and huskies. Maine has a ton of free areas and beaches, so dogs can run around all day. The only downside to Maine is that for its size, they don’t have many no-kill shelters (26).
Colorado has a lot of great things going for it. It’s another state where there aren’t any BSLs. Colorado also has pretty strict animal abuse laws. They have a large number of vets, so your pup will be in good hands. There’s a lot of open areas, too, like major national parks and ski slopes. Who knows? Your pup might love snowboarding or skiing after being here for a while!
Virginia is close to a dog’s paradise. The state boasts a ton of free space for dogs to roam around and play in, and there are plenty of places that dogs can feel welcome with their owners. Virginia also has the largest concentration of veterinarians in a given area! Virginia doesn’t have any BSL laws.
Oregon used to be number one on every list and for good reason. They have the strictest animal abuse laws of any state in the nation. There are also the most dog parks per person out of any other state, too. They have a ton of pet-friendly restaurants – Portland has over 300 alone! The state has a large number of vets in the state and a large number of no-kill shelters. If you’re in the northwest or looking to go with your dog, this state’s a pretty safe bet.
Ah, Florida. I have a personal connection to this one since I currently live here! Florida has a ton of dog-friendly parks and restaurants. They also have a lot of dog beaches. My lab loves going to Baldwin Park in Orlando, which is a popular one in the area. Florida has a large number of vets in the state (they’re in the top 5), and they have two of the most dog-friendly cities – Tampa and Orlando. Florida doesn’t have any BSL laws, and they have a lot of no-kill shelters. One of the best things about Florida – they’ve revamped their dog racing laws. By the end of this year, Greyhound racing will be completely banned! It’s a major blow to the industry – most of the races happened on Floridian dog tracks. Talk about a major improvement for dog life in the state!
Just like its southern neighbor, Washington state is known as a dog-friendly state. Washington ranks in the top 10 for a lot of factors that would appeal to dog owners. It’s top 10 in animal protection laws, and in terms of the number of pet-friendly stores and dog parks in the state! They have a lot of no-kill shelters, and they have plenty of places for you to take your dog to – including beaches and nature hikes. There’s no shortage of activities to do with your dog there.
Massachusetts is extremely strict when it comes to their animal abuse laws. Like Florida, Massachusetts has a set of laws called “Good Samaritan” laws. If you see a dog in a car on a hot day and you suspect that the dog may be overheating, you can actually BREAK SOMEONE’S CAR WINDOW to free the dog and you’d be protected by the law! Vets are also required by law to report any animal abuse that they suspect. There are also a ton of dog-friendly businesses and beaches/nature centers that you can take your dog to and enjoy their company. Even if you’re going just to visit, Massachusetts has over 2500 pet-friendly hotels that you can reserve for you and your canine buddy.
Rhode Island may be small, but they love their dogs. Like a few other states on this list, Rhode Island has pretty strict animal legislature – they’re ranked in the top 10 for protections for animals. They also have no BSL laws, so all breeds are welcome. They have quite a few no-kill shelters and they have a lot of shops and other places that are dog-friendly. The state really gives meaning to the saying, “good things come in small packages”!
North and South Dakota
I know, this seems like a weird entry, especially because I’m looking at two states at once. However, they’re usually ranked side by side on places that people with dogs love to be. North and South Dakota both have lots of open space for dogs to run around and play, which is a blessing for owners with extremely active dogs. People own more dogs in South Dakota, but there are more veterinarians in North Dakota. One major difference between the states are BSL laws. South Dakota doesn’t have any, while North Dakota has banned mostly pit bulls and rottweilers.
If you want a state where you can find a veterinarian, look no further! California has the largest number of practicing vets out of any other state in the country, with over 7,000 as of 2018. While California is also a no-BSL state, Southern California is really where it’s at for dog lovers. San Diego alone is consistently rated as one of the top dog-friendly cities in the US. Other dog-friendly cities in California include San Francisco, Sacramento, and Irvine.
Are there any other states that you’re curious about, or do you live in a state that you know is dog-friendly? Let us know about these places in the comments below!