The City takes the cake in animal treatment

San Francisco values apparently include “humaneness,” as the Bay Area was named top dog of all U.S. metropolitan areas in how it treats animals.

Judged with the 25 largest metro areas, the Bay Area is more than twice as humane as runner-up Seattle, and ranked in the top five in eight of 12 categories ranging from the number of fur retailers per capita and the number of circus shows to the number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants.

The Bay Area ranked No. 1 with only 9 percent of the area’s pet stores selling puppies from commercial retailers that breed the dogs in poor conditions, commonly known as “puppy mills.” The 40 vegetarian or vegan restaurants vaulted the Bay Area to first in the rankings for that category.

According to the humane index, the Bay Area was also ranked in the top 10 in two other categories: stores with a cage-free egg policy, and captive animals on display per capita.

Portland, Ore., Washington, D.C., and San Diego trailed The City and Seattle in overall rankings. Chicago placed dead last in overall humaneness.

The index will help the Humane Society and metro areas keep an objective tally of how cities are faring in efforts to make the world safer for animals, said Jennifer Fearing, the society’s chief economist, who spearheaded the index.

During initial polling, most individuals expected San Francisco and the Bay Area to be the most humane, and the index was consistent with perceptions of The City, Fearing said.

“San Francisco’s ethic really transcends the dog-cat issues,” Fearing said. “It did really consistently well. It didn’t just win it; it really knocked one out of the park.”

There are likely correlations between the rankings and the desirability of the area for young, well-educated adults to live and work in, said Carol Piasente, vice president of communications for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

“When you have a youthful, well-educated and cutting edge population, you probably have a number of people looking at new lifestyles,” Piasente said.

There were some categories the Bay Area needed to work on to improve its humaneness. The City has a number of food markets that sell turtles, fish, frogs and other animals. Also, Oakland struggles with pitbulls and pit mixes being the most confiscated dog thanks to backyard breeders, officials said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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