Between the traffic and the high cost of living, life in the Bay Area isn't always easy. But it turns out that if you're a dog lover, you're right where you need to be.
NerdWallet, a consumer-friendly financial literacy website that does analysis and comparison of everything from credit cards to airport parking, has named its Top 10 best places to have a dog. Oakland comes in at No. 10 and San Francisco is No. 2.
NerdWallet looked at quality of dog life issues in 50 large urban areas with Portland, Ore., coming in at No. 1. Researchers looked at the number of off-leash dog parks per 100,000 residents, the affordability of vet care and whether there are places to easily walk your dog.
San Francisco scored high with 27 dog parks with some parks staging breed-specific events such as Pug Sunday at Alta Plaza Park in Pacific Heights. The city achieved a "walkability" score of 85 with a visit to the vet averaging $56.06. The overall dogability score is 74.3 (Portland scored 78.7).
Oakland did great, too, with an overall score of 52.2. Its walkability score is 68, and the trip to the vet costs an average of $48.04.
The rest of the Top 10 were Las Vegas (3), Miami (4), Washington, D.C. (5), Seattle (6), St. Louis (7), Milwaukee (8) and Minneapolis (9).
I was pleased to see the East Bay so well represented. I think Oakland, as well as other East Bay cities, would have scored even higher if other aspects had been included. We have dozens of organizations that work hard to ensure that all animals, not just dogs, find loving homes. Most of these are volunteer groups, but I also give a shout out to the county animal shelters that are tasked with the most difficult of jobs. Faced with limited funding, workers go to extremes to avoid having to euthanize animals, as well as laboring under the public perception that they take in strays and kill them without a second thought.
I hate to think what the state of petkind would be without the hundreds of volunteers throughout the Bay Area who work tirelessly to care for pets and find them homes.
We also are blessed with so many organizations that rescue injured wildlife and, when possible, nurse them back to health and return them to the wild.
Congrats to Oakland and San Francisco, and a big thanks to everyone involved with pets.
Here is some reader feedback from recent columns:
DEAR JOAN: Just a comment on your advice about cats and laser pointers. Older cats may not be up to it.
Our 9-year-old male went nuts the moment he saw the dot and chased it all over the place. Great fun, except a few days later he started limping and had a sore right hip for almost a month. Poor guy.
I felt guilty for overworking him, and I'm glad the vet didn't ask me if I had a laser pointer.
DEAR JOAN: Not only are "Easter" rabbits not treated well, they are frequently dumped afterward at local community gardens, which is terrifying for the poor rabbits and frequently means a very short life span, at least at the Cupertino community garden.
The coyotes catch and eat the rabbits before humans can catch them and take them away.
A rabbit can be as rewarding a pet as a dog or cat, but they are very different animals, and owners need that different knowledge before any rabbit has a hope of being a happy pet to a happy owner.
Contact Joan Morris at email@example.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.