The 20 Most Pet-Friendly States in America

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About half of all American households have a pet, according to a 2017 U.S. Census Bureau study. Every owner wants to give their pet the best quality of life they can, but the reality is that some places make it easier than others. Certain states have made it a point to be pet friendly — whether that means setting up lots of dog parks or passing strict anti-animal cruelty measures.

24/7 Tempo analyzed the most pet-friendly states. We only considered states that have two key legal protections for animals: states with laws against leaving animals in hot cars and states that have felony penalties for animal cruelty. There are 26 such states in the country.

To identify the most pet friendly states, we created an index consisting of three values that indicate the climate for pets in each state: the number of no-kill shelters, the total number of dog parks, and the total dog population, all adjusted for population. No-kill shelters in each state were derived from the No Kill Network, and are as of 10/29/2019. Total dog parks in each state was derived from Bring Fido, a pet travel and lifestyle website. Finally, the total population of dogs by state was taken from the US Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook for 2012.

It should come as no surprise that dogs are, by far, the most popular type of pet in the country, followed by cats, fish, and birds. But there are many other animals that need legal protection and veterinary care — like many different types of reptiles, marsupials, and other animals you might not expect people to take into their homes. These are the animals you might be surprised people keep as pets.

Though dogs are exceedingly popular in America, there are still more dogs than homes willing to take them in. Each year, an estimated 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats enter animal shelters, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Unfortunately, roughly 670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats are euthanized, as many shelters do not have the resources to keep all the dogs they get. Though some people may be hesitant to adopt a dog from a shelter rather than buy one from a breeder, sheltered dogs actually have some advantages. Here are 25 reasons why rescue dogs make the best pets.