2014′s Best and Worst Cities for Pet Lovers
Once upon a time, pets were — well, just pets. Dogs amused or protected us. Fish kept us visually stimulated — for a few minutes. Reptiles made creepy but fascinating gifts. These days, these creatures are practically family, only furrier or slimier. In fact, a record 68 percent, or 82.5 million, of American households owned a pet in 2012, according to the “2013-2014 National Pet Owners Survey” released by the American Pet Products Association, or APPA. Dogs and cats retain the title for most popular, at 46.7 and 37.3 percent ownership, respectively.
And with greater pet ownership of course comes greater financial responsibility. A lengthy list of expenses that can add up to about $2,000 annually — from licenses and treats to grooming and medical care — accompanies the adoption of an animal. Health insurance alone can cost pet owners beaucoup bucks every year. The North American Pet Health Insurance Association estimated that combined annual premiums totaled between $475 and $500 million for more than 1 million animals by the end of 2012.
With aspiring pet parents and pet lovers in mind, WalletHub ranked the 100 largest cities in the United States based on their creature-friendliness. We used 14 essential metrics to study different areas, including ownership and maintenance costs, health care and outdoor spaces in each city. By preparing this information, current and future animal owners can enjoy the company of their pets without breaking the bank.
Health Care & Wellness Rank
|2||Las Vegas, NV||19||17||6|
|8||St. Louis, MO||13||21||25|
|T-19||Long Beach, CA||87||32||3|
|24||St. Petersburg, FL||53||41||13|
|29||Boise City, ID||55||47||11|
|32||San Diego, CA||70||39||14|
|33||St. Paul, MN||64||35||37|
|37||Gilbert Town, AZ||80||8||67|
|38||Kansas City, MO||6||43||82|
|39||New Orleans, LA||24||51||54|
|43||Colorado Springs, CO||63||54||32|
|47||North Las Vegas, NV||36||30||87|
|49||San Francisco, CA||100||60||1|
|50||Santa Ana, CA||74||28||65|
|52||Chula Vista, CA||74||44||46|
|57||Baton Rouge, LA||42||63||52|
|58||Oklahoma City, OK||7||62||84|
|61||Jersey City, NJ||99||48||28|
|T-62||San Jose, CA||92||64||23|
|64||Fort Wayne, IN||1||86||83|
|66||Fort Worth, TX||52||57||73|
|69||Virginia Beach, VA||38||37||94|
|T-83||Los Angeles, CA||87||73||44|
|T-83||San Antonio, TX||26||69||92|
|87||San Bernardino, CA||91||69||49|
|90||El Paso, TX||29||96||67|
|98||Corpus Christi, TX||50||95||96|
|99||New York, NY||97||100||30|
For the right reasons, pet ownership can be a personally fulfilling endeavor. But it also comes with its own set of challenges, which pet parents may or may not be able to anticipate. We asked a panel of experts to weigh in on certain issues and offer their advice to aspiring pet owners on caring for their animals. Click on the experts’ profiles to read their bios and responses to the following questions:
- Do you believe it is worth it to insure a pet?
- What measures can local authorities take in order to make their cities more pet-friendly?
WalletHub compared the creature-friendliness of the 100 largest U.S. cities using 14 essential metrics such as veterinary care costs, the number of pet-friendly restaurants per capita and the number of dog parks per capita in each city. By preparing this information, animal lovers can enjoy their pets without racking up costly expenses.
For this particular study, we chose each city according to the size of its population. Population, in this case, does not account for residents in the surrounding metropolitan areas. The metrics and corresponding weights we used are shown below. The three categories under which the metrics are listed were used for organizational purposes only and did not factor in to our overall rankings.
- Veterinary Care Costs: 1
- Minimum Pet Care Provider Rate per Visit: 0.5
- Dog Insurance Premium: 1
Health Care & Wellness
- Number of Veterinarians per Capita: 1
- Number of Pet Caretakers per Capita: 1
- Number of Pet Businesses per Capita: 1
- Pet Friendly Restaurants per Capita: 1
- Percent of Pet Friendly Hotels: 0.25
- Pet Meet-up Groups: 1
- Average Home Square Feet: 1
- Weather Conditions - Cities with the Best & Worst Weather Ranking: 1
- Dog Parks per Capita: 1
- Walk Score®: 1
- Pet Friendly Trails: 1
Sources: Data used to create these rankings is courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Yelp.com, Zillow, WalkScore.com, Tripadvisor, Petsbest, the Council for Community and Economic Research, Sittercity, BringFido, the Trust for Public Land, Meetup and WalletHub research.