We love our pets, and a new study backs up our view that Virginia is a top state for our four-legged friends.

Virginia ranks as one of the most pet-friendly states in the country, coming in at No. 7, according to Safewise, a website that tests, reviews and compares home safety products and home security companies. Consulting data from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, BringFido, and the nØkill Network, Safewise examined anti-abuse laws, the number of veterinarians, and the prevalence of pet-friendly restaurants, hotels and activities.

About 70 percent of American households own pets, ranging from dogs to cats to gerbils to horses. Virginia falls between Louisiana (No. 6) and Rhode Island (No. 8) in the list, which is led by Oregon (“thousands of pet-friendly properties to visit, strict anti-abuse laws, and lots of no-kill shelters where you can meet new friends”), Colorado and Maine.

“From Norfolk to Blacksburg, Virginia is full of pet-friendly places. You can stroll along the shore or take one of the dozens of pet-friendly trails in the mountains. [The] Old Dominion also takes animal rights seriously. Virginia is home to over 60 no-kill shelters and more than 2,000 veterinarians. And it isn’t just horse country, Virginia is a great state for pets, wildlife and other livestock too,” the study declares.

Iowa comes in as the least pet-friendly state, “with weak protection laws, a high number of puppy mills and not many pet-friendly destinations,” the study found, with Missouri ranked as the second least pet-friendly with the most puppy mills and weak animal protection laws.

With our abundance of natural resources, dog-friendly stores and ample animal amenities, Virginia is indeed for all creatures great and small.

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Richmond Times-Dispatch

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