Philly LEAST Pet Friendly City?!?

Sure, Philly is notorious for it’s under-dog, somewhat abrasive “atty-tude.” We can take a little warming up to. But one thing I know for sure is that we LOVE our dogs. A quick walk down any city block and you’ll see a dog walking happily on a leash or playing in the park.

So you can imagine my surprise when a representative from financial website WalletHub reached out to tell me Philly ranked as one of the LEAST pet-friendly cities in the U.S.

Source: WalletHub

 

Methodology

In order to identify the most pet-friendly cities, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 100 most populated cities (excluding surrounding metro areas) across three key dimensions: 1) Pet Budget, 2) Pet Health & Wellness and 3) Outdoor Pet Friendliness.

Data was obtained from sources, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Yelp.com, Zillow, Apartmenlist.com, WalkScore.com, TripAdvisor, and Pets Best Insurance Services, to name a few. The three dimensions listed above were evaluated on 19 weighted metrics. Each metric was graded on a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 representing the best conditions for pet owners. Overall scores where then calculated by taking the weighted average across all metrics.

Here’s how Philly ranked:

PET-FRIENDLINESS OF PHILADELPHIA (1=BEST; 50=AVG.):

  • 90th – Veterinary Care Costs
  • 39th – Dog Insurance Premium
  • 89th – Number of Veterinarians per Capita
  • 94th – Number of Pet Businesses per Capita
  • 31st – Number of Pet-Friendly Restaurants per Capita
  • 83rd – % of Pet-Friendly Hotels
  • 86th- Number of Dog Parks per Capita
  • 72nd – Number of Animal Shelters per Capita
  • 49th – Number of Pet Caretakers per Capita

So, which city was the most pet friendly? Why, Orlando, Florida. (Of course, how could you now know that?) Orlando was followed by Birmingham, Alabama, Tampa, Florida, Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky (how many of those shelter dogs from the south are getting shipped up to our rescues?) and Scottsdale, Arizona.

I decided to dig in a little deeper and reached out to WalletHub for some definitions:

Question: How is the term “animal shelter” defined? Is it defined as intake shelters (city funded), no-kill only, rescues that use foster parents?

Answer: The data for the number of animal shelters was obtained from Yelp.com and is mostly based on pet rescue and adoption facilities. 

Question:  I didn’t see data for Philadelphia in the block for Pet friendliness of rental market. How is “pet friendly” defined and determined? Is there a penalty if the rental does not rent to particular breeds? Does the number of pets allowed in the rental factor in? Pet deposit required?

Answer: The Pet-Friendliness of Rental Market key metric measures the percentage of pet-friendly rental units and it’s composed of two sub-metrics – 1. Percentage of Apartments that allow Dogs – 21 percent in Philadelphia (ranking 57th) and 2) Percentage of Apartments that allow Cats – 34 percent in Philadelphia (ranking 65th). For the Pet-Friendliness of Rental Market key metric Philadelphia ranked 66th overall. We did not factor in the number of pets allowed or the pet deposit required. 

Youse Got it All Wrong

Um, yeah. So that’s real scientific. Then again, New York, New York ranked the worst , so maybe there is a grain of truth in all of this. You can take a closer look at the the full report and decide for yourself.

Zuke’s Mini-Naturals Ghost

Zuke’s Mini-Naturals Ghost

Disclaimer: In exchange for writing a review of the Zuke’s Mini-Naturals Ghost treats, Zuke’s donated two bags to be included in our raffle prize to help fundraise for the 2016 Philly PAWS Mutt Strutt. 

Just in time for the Halloween festivities, all natural pet treat company Zuke’s has released their mini-treats in the shape of ghosts!

zukes mini naturals halloweenWe’ve written about Zuke’s a few times now and we’re always happy to help spread the word about their product. At less than 3 ½ calories each, these teeny ghoulishly ghost-shaped bites are perfect for training dogs of any size. They are soft, too, which I like because Imogene and Dash are both seniors (and low on teeth). I like that I can grab a little handful, put them in my pocket, and I’ve got enough treats for an entire outing. And, most importantly, they like eating them!

In addition to being shaped like little ghosts, the treats come in two fall-favorite recipes: Chicken with Spiced Apple and Turkey and Pumpkin. Not only are they  made in the USA, they do not contain any harsh additives, preservatives, wheat, corn or soy. They’ve even jumped on the turmeric bandwagon and added antioxidant-rich rosemary and turmeric for anti-inflammatory properties. But what I  like the most about Zuke’s is that they donate a portion of all treat sales to The Dog and Cat Cancer Fund (DCCF). Visit www.zukes.com or check out @ZukesPets on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Zuke’s Mini Naturals Ghosts are available for around $5.79 for a 6 ounce bag at PetSmart locations. But hurry – this is one treat that won’t last long on shelves!

What Would You Do if You Lost Your Dog?

What Would You Do if You Lost Your Dog?

We lost our dog. And I never, ever thought that could happen.

It was a normal night. Though I suppose it always starts like that. It would be odd for a story to begin with “It was an abnormal night; one that was itching for a horrible event,” but I digress.

We, my boyfriend Austin and I, were concluding our night – turning off the TV, putting away our laptops, getting ready for bed. And any dog owner knows that the “getting ready for bed” process truly starts with walking the dog. Our dog, also known as the best dog in the whole world, is named Brody. He’s a black pug mix who weighs about 15 lbs. And he’s friggin adorable.Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 4.36.44 PM

Austin typically walks Brody at night because, true to Philadelphia living, there are cockroaches all over the streets and I prefer not to fraternize with that sort of creature. So he takes one for the team and braves the bugs each night. I typically head upstairs to play with our fat cat, Alley – she’s in need of a bit more activity – and this night was no different than the rest.

About six or seven minutes after the door closes, I heard a horrible scream from outside. Even the cat got wide-eyed. Thirty seconds later, Austin comes careening through the door in a panic. “Babe! I need help! He ran off! He’s gone!!” To be honest, I thought he, or someone nearby, had been stabbed; that was the level of terror in his voice.

It’s moments like these that no one really thinks about – because who would want to – and therefore, you never really know how you’ll act. If you had asked me a week prior, I probably would have described myself as the panicker in a situation such as this. Austin’s always been much more even keeled than me. But when the moment happens, all previous notions or suppositions are lost. Austin panicked. I, for some reason, remained eerily calm and pragmatic.

I first grabbed Austin, tried to calm him down and looked him in the eyes to focus his mind.

Austin described the situation: they were walking the normal route, nothing out of the ordinary, moving ridiculously slow and smelling every leaf that floated by. Then Brody got spooked. To this day, Austin still racks his mind for what could have possibly spooked him, but he lost his sh** and bolted. He ran straight through a four-way intersection. Austin still relives this moment with agita – the taste of bile and utter numbness that sets in when you’re about to watch your dog die.

But for some blessed reason, Brody was able to run across those streets unscathed as he darted toward our off-street.

By the time Austin got back to the house, he couldn’t see Brody anywhere. He ran inside to get me, and we both set out to find him. Austin hopped on his bike while I ran up and down the surrounding streets calling Brody’s name with the friendliest, un-pained voice I could manage in hopes of coaxing him home to me. It’s funny how another living thing (pet, child, etc) takes complete precedence. I completely neglected shoes, and ran out the door in my nightgown – no bra. Lucky for me, these bee stings pretty much stay put.

After about ten minutes, I ran into Austin two streets over – nothing. I carried both our phones in my pockets, hoping someone would be able to come close enough to grab Brody and read the phone numbers on his tag, though both Austin and I knew that was unlikely – he’s not the type of dog to willingly approach others.

We split up again, Austin on his bike, me on my still-nude feet. My mind had no concept of the ragged blisters forming on my soles; adrenaline had taken care of that.

An hour later, we were still at a loss and my hard, organized shell was cracking. The only thing keeping me fastened together was knowing that I had become Austin’s rock – a position he’s played numerous times for me – so I could not break down yet. For him.

I decided to go back to our street and focus on the nooks and crannies around there while Austin scoured the parks nearby. It makes me sick to even think this, but I was resigned at this point. It seemed like such an impossible battle to fight – I’ve never felt so helpless.Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 4.28.25 PM

While walking past our door once more, I saw a small black cat crossing the street a half block down. I knew it was a long shot; I didn’t even run. I moseyed down the street just so I could say I did. I turned the corner and my eyes locked with my frightened ball of fur. What I thought was a cat was in fact my Bro Bro.

Relief poured down my face. I bent down, ensuring not to spook him, and called him over. He stood there, statuesque, covered in mud with a look of disbelief on his face. As soon as my arms wrapped around him I ran the half block to my house. Austin was rounding the corner just as I pulled out my phone and his face came to life.

I held my focus as I approached our door. But once inside, I crumbled. All composure lost. For ten minutes we all just sat there. Partially in shock. Partially in prayer. Trying to make sense of a situation that we’ll never figure out.

We don’t know where he went. How he got that dirty. Why he ran in the first place. But that’s not really for us to know. What we do know is every moment with him is precious and if we didn’t know it before, we certainly know it now.

Why ThePhillyDog has to Change

Why ThePhillyDog has to Change

Re-designing a site is hard work.

ThePhillyDog & Boogie Gear Tables

One of the 1st Fundraisers to Spread the Word

I can still remember how excited I was when I received my logo from the designer I contracted on Etsy…it was the first tangible manifestation of all of my brainstorming and visions of where I wanted this site to go. In 2009, I wanted simplicity. I wanted a Liberty Bell with a Doxie (because that was the only dog shape that looked okay stretched across the Liberty Bell). I picked my font based on what Vistaprint.com had for business cards.

Along the way, the site has changed a ton. Initially, it was just about getting events up, supporting the rescues, and talking about Dash’s separation anxiety. But when a company found my negative product review about their product, things changed. I’ll never forget the day I found a package on my porch with a ton of products, asking me to give them another try and apologizing for my bad experience. That was my Julie & Julia moment – “Ernestine, I have a comment.” But this time, it wasn’t my mother.

It seemed as though the brands had found me. The products started pouring in – it seemed like every day there was a new dog toy or treat for Dash to try. It got to the point where when the mail came, Dash immediately sat, assuming it was something for him.

I won’t lie – it was fun. A lot of fun. For a while.  Because it was also a ton of work. Brands send bloggers products but expect a full review and for you to share it on their social channels. Writing it up, taking photos, editing, posting…that all takes time. And I was still working full time as an attorney. So, I decided maybe it was time to start charging and making money for all of my efforts.

I then began attending blogging conferences and trying to educate myself as much as possible about blogging and social media. My focus for the site turned to making money – advertising for the local Philly businesses. This required making sure my traffic was high to justify. In 2009, not many people wanted to pay for digital advertising, believe it or not. Bloggers weren’t valued as a PR opportunity.  And the hustle that’s required in keeping your traffic up (attending all of the dog-friendly events, meeting with businesses, etc.) is really hard to do when you are working full time.

Keeping the site updated with events and what places are and aren’t dog friendly – well that takes a lot of work, too. Running giveaways consumes a ridiculous amount of time, and it was another feature brands started wanting. And when you spend all day at work on the computer and running around, the last thing you feel like doing is getting back in front of your computer to work on a site that was supposed to be fun.

ThePhillyDog.com wasn’t fun any more for me. I didn’t look forward to sharing the upcoming events. I stopped doing product reviews because I couldn’t get them posted in a reasonable time. And then Dash moved in with my parents. I moved out of Philadelphia and into the suburbs. I didn’t have a dog and I didn’t live in Philly.

Over the past year, I’ve made a few changes to get my work-life balance back in check. I decided it was time to stop focusing on making money with the site and start having fun again. But I can’t do it all alone. This site is for the dog loving community in the Philadelphia area. In order for it to be valuable to the community, I need the community to help. This can’t be a one-woman show any more.

SO – I’m working on enabling as many features as I can to streamline things and provide the community with ways to add content and help share events and keep everything updated – including adding dog friendly events, posting adoptable pets, to getting businesses listed. I’m also hoping to add a recommendation and rating system that will help other dog owners make decisions on pet sitters and places to visit. Lots of great changes coming, so please bear with all of the site changes and updates. It’s a work in progress, for sure. I’ll be posting updates on new features as I get them implemented.

Have a suggestion? Is there something you’d like to see on ThePhillyDog.com that isn’t there? Post your comment below and let me know!

What if I die before my pets do?

It’s always sad when a person dies. Their friends and families and even coworkers mourn, and they may take a long time to process their grief. But there is something even more profoundly sad when a pet parent dies, and their pets have no understanding as to why Mom or Dad never came home for them again. I am always sad for animals when they are given away to a shelter – or worse – put out on the street, unwanted. They never know why, or what they’ve done to deserve everything they’ve known to suddenly change. But a pet who loses his parents, especially to unexpected tragedy, is suddenly often surrounded by sadness, strangers, change and uncertainty – and the person who knew everything about what each look on their face meant is suddenly not there to be their friend, caregiver…their advocate.

A client of mine was killed in a fluke accident. He was dad to two very old, very sweet pups, both with special needs. We were pet sitting for them at the time, and were called by his ex-girlfriend to inform us of the tragedy and to let us know the girls were safe with her, with whom they had once lived. Thank God.

But what if the ex had no further contact with the dad? What if no one knew Josh had died?

(more…)

Philly Water’s Best Friend Spokesdog 2015

Philly Water’s Best Friend Spokesdog 2015

Philly Water’s Best Friend Spokesdog casting call ends in little over a week! Dog owners in Fishtown and Washington Square West have until July 15th to enter their pup for the coveted title of Philly Water’s Best Friend Spokesdog and win $200 in gifts from local pet stores.

Philly Water Spokesdog? What in the world….?

philly water's spokesdog winner 2014You may not know that Philly has actually had eight spokesdogs since 2011 from neighborhoods all over the city (one of last year’s winners pictured right). The program, hosted by Philadelphia Water and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, was created in part to help spread awareness that dog waste is not environmentally friendly. And no, it’s not a fertilizer!

What happens when you don’t pick up after your dog? It can leech into the earth, run off into storm drains, and flow into waterways (like our rivers). When it rains or snows, it spreads even more. Once it’s in the water, the resulting bacteria and algae can kill fish and even cause a swimming ban if levels get too high:

“Believe it or not, the average dog goes over 20 times a week, leaving up to 200 pounds of waste in its tracks each year,” said Lisa Wool, program director at the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.  “Multiply that hundreds of dogs per neighborhood and, well, you’re talking about a big threat to our water.  It’s important to pick it up.”

The purpose of the Philly Water’s Best Friend Spokesdog Competition is to keep waterways clean by showing the importance of picking up dog waste:
To Enter:

The deadline to enter the Philly Water’s Best Friend Spokesdog Competition is July 15. For more information on what you submit, please read the submission guidelines  – if your dog wins the title, there will be certain duties that he’ll need to fulfill (just like Miss America). Voters will then select finalists during an online vote  from August 1st through the 31st and anyone (even non-Philly residents) can vote once a day. You’ll receive an email notification when the polls open so be sure to encourage your family and friends to vote!

If you have any other questions or need additional info, visit PhillyWatersheds.org/Spokesdog call Melissa Bittner of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary at (800) 445-4935, extension 112.

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