Pets are part of the family, so when you’re planning a pet friendly vacation, naturally you look for places where you can all have fun together! There’s nothing more disappointing than getting to your destination and finding that the city you’ve chosen seems to have a vendetta against pets.
We’ve been roaming the country with Ty and Buster for years, so we’ve seen some of the best, and some of the worst places for pet travelers. Sometimes we feel the pet friendly vibe immediately, but other times it takes a little more digging to determine a city’s attitude toward pets. And, when you find the pet friendliness lacking, it’s hard not to take it personally.
These are some simple things cities can do to be more pet friendly, and the things you should look for when planning your next pet friendly trip!
We’ve been in many towns where local law prohibits restaurant owners from allowing pets at their sidewalk, patio, or deck seating. These laws put the businesses at a competitive disadvantage, and simultaneously alienate an entire group of potential customers.
Changing the statutes would give restauranteurs the option to set their own policies regarding pets, rather than having the decision made for them. Of course, bring this up and you’ll meet the usual suspects … it’s not clean to have pets at restaurants, people will get bitten, the staff will be petting the dogs and then serving the food. This is my response: take a look around the country. From Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon people are eating out with their dogs. Other cities are clearly finding a way to make it work – you will too.
A small investment means a lot when it comes to pet waste stations. These waste bag/trash can combos broadcast the “pets are welcome here” message better than anything else – and they also work to encourage pet owners to pick up after their dogs.
There’s nothing more unjust for a dog who’s been pounding the pavement all day to be told that sniffing around in the nice, green grass isn’t allowed. Central Park in New York, Balboa Park in San Diego … some of the most impressive outdoor spaces in the country are pet friendly.
The concern that some people will not pick up after their pets is justified, and I completely agree that those people suck. But don’t punish us all for a few bad apples! For every irresponsible pet owner, there is one who will pitch in by picking up someone else’s abandoned waste. Put a couple of those waste stations around and you might be surprised how well people will behave.
Make it easy for pet owners to figure out where they’re welcome, and I guarantee they’ll show up! Annapolis, following the lead of cities like Saratoga Springs, launched a campaign to put stickers in the windows of every pet friendly shop and restaurant in town. This is a fantastic way for businesses to quickly and easily communicate their pet policy, and provides pet travelers with a friendly welcome when exploring downtown.
Dogs aren’t much for sitting around, so having a place to stretch their legs is always appreciated. We’ve followed the trolley route around Savannah, struck out on the Freedom Trail in Boston, taken a scenic stroll toward the mountains in Salida, and enjoyed the lake district in Minneapolis. Each of these walks celebrates what makes that town unique, and seeing it with the dogs makes it extra special. Oh, and don’t forget #2 above.
Reminders are good and the information you’re sharing is important … but it can also be fun. We saw this sign in very pet friendly Bend, Oregon, and I’ve never forgotten it. It communicates the message without being preachy or threatening. Whether you’re asking people to leash their pets or pick up after them, doing it with a sense of humor will get better results.
For a lot of pet travelers, there’s no more welcome sight at the end of a long day in the car than an off-leash dog park. Where better for a pooch to burn of some energy while socializing with the other dogs over a game of fetch? It doesn’t have to be fancy – it just needs to be a safe place where a dog can be a dog.
Breed specific legislation is ineffective, unjustified, and cruel. Pet travelers are a savvy bunch, and there’s nothing they hate more than seeing one of their own being kicked while they’re down. Rather than planning a vacation and spending money in cities or states that discriminate against certain breeds of dogs, look for pet friendly destinations where all pets are welcome!
Some cities have done all the things listed above, but are still having trouble getting the word out to pet travelers. That’s where we come in! Pet friendly businesses and attractions can be listed for free on GoPetFriendly.com, so when people are sniffing around, they’ll be sure to see everything an area has to offer.
What are your suggestions for cities looking to attract more pet travelers? Let them know in the comments below!
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