Squamish, followed by Saskatoon, Sask.; Milton, Ont.; Cochrane, Alta; Fredericton, N.B.; Quebec, Que.; Halifax, N.S.; and Winnipeg, Man. made the list of the fastest-growing dog-friendly cities in Canada.
Rebecca Greenstein, a veterinary advisor for Rover, told The Squamish Chief that dog-friendly communities are defined by a high concentration of dog owners and the relative ease with which those pet parents can find quality pet care services.
"Wide open spaces, and businesses and housing that are open to our four-legged friends tagging along — or even encourage it," she said.
According to a Rover survey of Canadian dog parents, 69% said they would move to better accommodate their dog’s needs and 59% of pet owners who have moved during the pandemic said their dog’s happiness and well-being were their biggest inspiration.
“It’s clear our pets are at the centre of our families, and they’re influencing how and where we live,” said Rover's Kate Jaffe, in a news release sent out April 26. “Pet parents want to do right by their dogs, including giving them the best resources and opportunities to be happy. At the same time, people have realized that pets can improve our own health and well-being. Moving to a location with a big backyard and proximity to a park not only improves our pet’s life, it also leads to more exercise, more outdoor time and more social interaction that can actually make an impact on our own happiness.”
The survey also pointed to the frustration of many trying to find pet-friendly rentals.
"[For] 64% of renters with dogs, even rentals listed as ‘dog-friendly' are still challenging to rent for reasons such as breed and size restrictions, high-security deposits, and a limit on the number of pets allowed," the release states.
The Squamish Chief took the opportunity to ask vet Greenstein about some of the other conflicts that come with being a community with a growing number of dogs.
Regarding not scooping the poop, she said most owners she knows are conscientious.
"It’s a question of accountability, respect, and human and animal health," she said.
"In areas with high-density dog parks, I think it’s even more important for dog parents to go out of their way to show the rest of the community that off-leash doesn’t mean lack of rules, but in fact, quite the opposite. Given the sense of camaraderie that often exists in most dog parks, sometimes all it takes is offering an extra poop bag to a neighbour to remedy careless behaviour."
Regarding off-leash dogs in undesignated areas, she said it is important for owners to remember "that not everyone feels safe around bigger dogs and that not all dogs feel comfortable when approached by new people or animals.”
"For smaller dogs, always ask the owner if it’s alright before you or your dog approach. And if you have a bigger dog or one who can be a little iffy around other pets or wildlife, it’s wise to keep your pet safely leashed…avoid high-traffic times of day, and step in — safely — if it seems like someone’s safety is going to be at risk”
The Top 20 Fastest Growing Dog-Friendly Cities ranking was calculated, in part, by looking at new dog accounts on Rover’s database of millions of pet profiles between June 2021 and March 2022.