Welcome to Dogtown USA

In DOG FANCY'S search for the best cities in which to be a dog, we discovered innovative shelter programs, generous amenities, thoughtful policies, and many wonderful dog-lovers.

By | Posted: Tue Sep 25 00:00:00 PDT 2001

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the behavior was unacceptable. Often, it made the animals unadoptable. Today, dogs begin learning from the moment they step into the shelter.

The program, along with the shelter's strong commitment to sterilization, has drastically reduced the number of pets euthanized in Denver annually. In 2000, 22,806 animals were taken to the shelter, 13,428 were adopted, and 1,643 were reunited with their owners.

Rohde says he is fortunate the shelter is located in Denver, a city filled with dog-lovers who donated thousands of hours of time to the shelter each year. Denver also has several large dogparks and vast reaches of land where dogs can run free.

In addition, the city has a multitude of other animal-welfare groups, all of which work together to make life better for dogs. For instance, while the league performs 9,000 spay and neuter procedures a year, Harrison Memorial Animal Hospital does a similar number, most at a low cost or for free.

Having worked in the animal-welfare world for nearly three decades, Rohde has watched people's attitudes toward pets change. "People in general are more committed to their pets than ever before," he says. "They want to keep the bond intact."

Austin, Texas

People who gather at The Ginger Man pub in downtown Austin, Texas, often let their dogs sit at their feet. Home to such companies as Whole Foods Market and Whole Earth Provision Co., the city has a progressive but laid-back feel about it. And that attitude reflects in how its residents care for their dogs.

Indeed, dog owners take their pets out on the town, to off- and on-leash dogparks, hiking trails, and even street festivals. You also see dogs with their owners in the workplace.

However, despite the apparent ease with which dogs move about the city, Austin once held a dirty little secret. Tens of thousands of dogs were killed each year at the city-owned shelter. In 1997, the shelter admitted about 27,000 dogs and cats and euthanized more than half (18,803) of them. When this statistic became public, dog lovers organized and demanded a better solution to pet overpopulation.

The result: a government-funded program that expects to eliminate euthanization of adoptable dogs by 2002. The city's animal-control

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