The 20 Most Pet-Friendly Cities in America

Ramin Talaie/Getty Images
Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

Pet parents have to look at more than just commute times and real estate prices when finding a new place to live. Factors like walkability, the number of parks, and the availability of pet sitters all dictate how comfortable a new city will be for dogs and their owners. If you're looking to make a move with your pooch, pet-sitting site Rover recently teamed up with real estate website Redfin to determine the best cities for dog lovers.

Together, the companies looked at a number of different metrics, like how easy it is to walk in each city, the concentration of dog walkers and sitters there, and the number of homes for sale with the word dog in the listing. And to measure the quality of a city's pet services, Rover broke down the total hours, minutes, and distance per walk given by the dog walkers in its system.

The report found there are dog-friendly cities across the country. Seattle ranked at the very top, followed by Chicago, Denver, and Manhattan. Cities throughout the South, including Austin, Houston, and Atlanta, also made the list, as did a handful of places in California (including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego).

You can check out the full round-up of dog-friendly cities below. And when you're ready to make your move, here are some tips for finding a pet-friendly apartment.

  1. Seattle, Washington

  1. Chicago, Illinois

  1. Denver, Colorado

  1. Manhattan, New York

  1. Washington, D.C.

  1. Portland, Oregon

  1. Los Angeles, California

  1. Brooklyn, New York

  1. San Francisco, California

  1. San Diego, California

  1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  1. Houston, Texas

  1. Austin, Texas

  1. Arlington, Virginia

  1. Minneapolis, Minnesota

  1. Alexandria, Virginia

  1. Dallas, Texas

  1. Atlanta, Georgia

  1. San Jose, California

  1. Nashville, Tennessee

The Eastern Hellbender Salamander, a.k.a. "Snot Otter," Is Named the Official State Amphibian of Pennsylvania

iStock.com/JasonOndreicka
iStock.com/JasonOndreicka

A slimy salamander that's typically found under rocks has been thrust into the spotlight in Pennsylvania. As NPR reports, the Eastern hellbender salamander, also known as the snot otter for its mucus-covered body, has been named the state's official amphibian.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has campaigned to make the hellbender a state animal for two years, and following passage of the bill through the state's Senate in February, Pennsylvania's House of Representatives voted to recognized the creature on April 16.

In addition to swimming through rivers and streams in Pennsylvania, the giant salamander can be found in waters throughout the Appalachian region, from Georgia to New York. It can grow up to 2 feet long, and it breathes through skin flaps that are loose and wrinkly to maximize the surface area through which it can absorb oxygen. They hide amid rocks and they're mostly active at night, which makes them hard to spot in the wild.

The hellbenders' numbers have shrunk in recent decades. Since the late 1990s, populations have suffered greatly from deforestation around bodies of water, leading to a warmer environment for them with more pollution runoff. Dams, construction, fishing, and reduced dissolved oxygen levels in their native waters may also be hurting them. Today they're considered endangered in Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana.

By voting to make the hellbender the official state amphibian, Pennsylvania legislators hope to raise awareness around the animal's precarious position. It joins the ruffed grouse, the Great Dane, and the brook trout as an official animal of the state.

[h/t NPR]

Meet Gracie: The Resident 'Bark Ranger' at Montana's Glacier National Park

NPS/A.W. Biel
NPS/A.W. Biel

Gracie isn't like the other park rangers at Glacier National Park in Montana: She’s not afraid to run after bighorn sheep and mountain goats in order to keep them at a safe distance from visitors. And while she doesn’t earn a salary, she’s content to work for belly rubs.

That’s because Gracie is a trained border collie who became the first employee-owned dog to become a “bark ranger” at a U.S. national park. She was accepted into Glacier’s wildlife shepherding program in July 2016 and has been protecting both humans and wildlife alike ever since.

One of Gracie's main duties is to keep sheep and goats away from areas with high foot traffic, like the Logan Pass parking lot. Through habituation, many of the park’s native species have begun to feel comfortable around humans, and sometimes even approach them. This is problematic for a couple of reasons.

“When closely approached or provided with human food, bighorn sheep and mountain goats can become aggressive; each has the ability to kick, bite, gore, or trample when feeling threatened,” the National Park Service (NPS) writes on its website. “This can cause injury—or in rare cases, death—to people and can cause the animal to be lethally removed from the population.”

In the winter, Gracie also helps shepherd deer out of highly populated areas in an effort to keep predators—namely mountain lions—away from people. Gracie completed a 10-week training program in Florence, Montana, where she learned how to control her direction and speed. She also knows when to retreat at the command of her owner, Mark Biel, who works as the park's natural resources program manager.

Gracie’s hard work has not gone unnoticed either. Her Instagram account, which chronicles the life of a #WorkingDog, has more than 17,000 followers. Check out some of the photos and videos below to see this very good girl in action.

Every time Gracie moves wildlife, Ranger Mark records how many animals were moved, how long it took to move them, where they went, and how long they stayed out of the area. This helps us evaluate the effectiveness of the program and learn about wildlife habits. The data show that in the park headquarters area, the deer have four established “escape routes” they favor when heading into the woods. Watch as this deer stops to decide which way to go, then heads to the left, toward the woods and one of those routes. Turning to the right would have taken it away from Gracie, but further into the housing area. This is an example of the program working as it’s intended. When pressured from a distance, the deer decides that the more comfortable place to be is in the woods, instead of further inside the populated area. 🐾🦌 #parkscience #barkrangergracie #barkranger #whitetail #keepwildlifewild​ @glaciernps @glacierconservancy @wind_river_bear_institute #workingbordercollie #workingdogsofig #glaciernationalpark #glacier

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