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Top Cities for Pets

By: Alex Lieber

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Warning: If your dog or cat gets wind of this story, they may pack up their toys and food bowls and head toward the Mile High City.

Denver was rated the healthiest city for pets in the United States by a think tank of animal health and welfare specialists. Why Denver? It achieved the highest scores in 23 criteria, including – among other things – the highest ratio of veterinarians to pets in the nation (1 vet for every 1,200 pets); the best access to veterinary specialists and the most accredited animal hospitals and affiliated clinics.

Hmm ... On second thought, your pet may not want to go to Denver, though he or she would surely appreciate this ranking: Denver also has the lowest flea population and high access to dog-friendly parks.

The study was commissioned by the Purina Pet Institute's Pets 21 Consortium, which includes the AKC Canine Health Foundation, the American Animal Hospital Association, Center to Study Human-Animal Relationships and Environments, the Delta Society, Society of Animal Welfare Administrators, the University of Minnesota and Ralston Purina.

The report marks the kickoff of the consortium's 5-year pet health plan to improve the health, welfare and bonds with dogs and cats. Data was used from numerous sources such as U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook and data from the American Veterinary Medical Association. The 50 cities selected had to meet the criteria to be on the list in the first place. In other words, last place doesn't mean worst in the nation, just last in the ranking of the top 50 cities.

1. Denver, CO.                        
2. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN        
3. Columbus, OH        
4. Philadelphia, PA
5. Seattle, WA        
6. Portland, OR
7. Washington, DC        
8. San Francisco, CA        
9. Phoenix-Mesa, AZ        
10. Hartford, CT        
11. San Diego, CA        
12. Oakland, CA        
13. Los Angeles, CA        
14. Milwaukee, WI
15. Sacramento, CA        
16. Atlanta, GA        
17. Boston, MA        
18. Chicago, IL        
19. Salt Lake City, UT        
20. Norfolk, VA        
21. Charlotte, NC        
22. Cleveland, OH        
23. Anaheim, CA        
24. Tampa, FL        
25. Kansas City, MO
26. Detroit, MI
27. Orlando, FL
28. Nassau, NY        
29. Bergen-Passaic, NJ
30. San Jose, CA        
31. Providence,RI
32. St. Louis, MO
33. Houston, TX
34. Buffalo, NY
35. New York, NY
36. Dallas. TX
37. San Antonio, TX
38. Baltimore, MD
39. Newark, NJ
40. Greensboro, NC
41. Las Vegas, NV        
42. Cincinnati, OH        
43. Fort, TX
44. Nashville, TN
45. Riverside, CA
46. Pittsburgh, PA
47. Fort Lauderdale, FL
48. New Orleans, LA
49. Indianapolis, IN
50. Miami, FL

The consortium considered 23 criteria, including veterinary services; environment (air quality, number of smokers, flea infestations); licensing and vaccination requirements; legislation promoting care of pets; the accessibility of dog parks and other pet-related services.

For being the healthiest city for pets, Denver received the Wagging Tail Award and $10,000 to be used to promote pet health.

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