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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"We have 300 spaces in the parking lot, and on weekends, they're all full," Tedford says of the popularity of the farm donated to the 128-year-old organization nearly 40 years ago. The farm found its name shortly after child star Shirley Temple peaked in popularity and everybody wanted to believe their own Good Ship Lollipop would pull into the dock.

It has for dogs in this metropolitan area of 1 million people, thanks to innovative programs spawned by the juxtaposition of a petting zoo and an animal shelter.

More and more dogs find homes through Tedford's agency. And the farm has been a good selling point. Many people who visit the complex to pet a goat, walk a llama, or take a hike, leave with a dog. At the very least, they see the shelter's exhibit area and learn something about caring for pets.

Making the humane society part of the community has helped with fund-raising-especially when it had to raise $5 million to build a new shelter, which opened in 2000.

"Puppies go within an hour," Tedford says and then quickly corrects himself. "No, homely puppies go within an hour. Cute puppies go within 10 minutes."

Tedford credits the new setting-oversized kennels, soft lighting, Plexiglas rather than bars, and radiant heat in the floors that warm puppies' paws on harsh winter dayswith making the dogs more comfortable and therefore more adoptable.

In addition to reducing the number of homeless dogs, the humane society has found ways to make sure dogs stay with their owners. It offers dog obedience classes to existing owners and classes for people who are thinking about adopting. The organization publishes a dog-friendly apartment list and helps educate landlords. It also hosts schoolchildren on field trips and in summer camps-always imparting the responsibilities of pet ownership and safety.

"What we're trying to do is enable people to keep their animals," Tedford says. And for dogs, that means more will find and keep happy homes.

Honorable Mentions
Boston - In addition to an array of other programs, Bean Town's Animal Rescue League has made it easier for dogs to ride as well as walk and run. The organization has compiled a list of cab companies that allow dogs to ride with their owners in taxis.

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