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Dog owners walking two dogs in search of most pet friendly states

Ranking The Most Pet Friendly States in the US

Welcome to your guide on the most pet friendly states in America. We’ll help you explore each state and rank them based on how well their laws, resources and environment cater to your best friends. Whether you’re relocating or wanting to see the best places for a furry vacation, taking your pet's safety into consideration is always a must!

Methodology For Determining Most Pet Friendly States

When it comes to finding the most pet-friendly states, there are several criteria to consider. Firstly, what kind of access do you have to pet-friendly rentals? That's important if you're looking to move somewhere with your furry companion.

Then there's the pet population. It's not much good having lots of pet-friendly apartments if no one has pets! The top states with high pet population will generally have more pet rentals available as well as other businesses which cater to the needs of owners.

It's also worth considering whether a state has a stringent licensing system and how strict their animal laws are. Regulation on stray animals is particularly important, as a large number of them can easily become a safety issue.

It is also wise to consider the legal protection regarding questionable activities such as puppy mills and animal fighting. The local government should also be active against other crimes of animal abuse.

Best States For Pet Ownership

Dog owners walking in a pet-friendly park with their pets

According to the latest research, the best states for pets in the United States include the following: Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Nevada, and Vermont.

All these states have scored high in the ranking methodology that was previously mentioned. Overall, these five states provide animal owners with plenty of options for outdoor recreation and finding furry friends to add to the family. If you want to learn more about these place, then read on!


If you're considering making Indiana your new home, then you'll be glad to know that it's currently the friendliest state for pets. This place reigns supreme in offering pet safety and enjoyment, with more than a hundred off-leash dog parks and plenty other attractions and activities.

Dog Parks

One of the most popular establishments in this place is Indy Parks, found in Indianapolis. However, it is but one of the many other businesses which can cater to your furry pals. All of these places come equipped with open space and equipment for maximum fun time with your friends.

Pet Attractions and Activities

Gone is the thought of leaving your furry companion at home if you're visiting Indiana. This state boasts a plethora of furry-friendly activities like bike riding and camping. You can also take a dip with at one of Indiana’s beautiful beaches or lakes, perfect for your Maremma or other water-loving dogs out there!

Animal Shelters

Indiana is also incredibly proactive when it comes to animal shelters—with over 150 across the state! Each one provides safe places for animals that have been abandoned or abused and helps reunite them with their owners or match them with new ones. And if you’re looking for a four-legged companion in Indiana then these shelters are definitely worth checking out!


Tennesee locals take their pets very seriously, as seen in their capacity to enact laws protecting these animals. While their laws may not be as comprehensive as the others, many of these continue to be observed and supported by its government.

If you love outdoor activities and the great indoors, Tennessee might be the state for your pet. This state is popular for its beautiful outdoors and vibrant culture.


Pet-friendly park in Tennessee

Tennessee has some of the most expansive nature preserves around, with plenty of hiking trails for your dog to run around. The Nutro Dog Park in Thompson’s Station offers 4 acres of forested areas with open fields, perfect for active pups.

Another option is the Shelby Bottoms Greenway, an easily accessible area that offers an array of running paths surrounded by lush greenery. There are also plenty of lakeside adventures to be had in towns like Chattanooga that offer a variety of activities like boating and fishing.


For days when your furry friend needs a break from all the adventures, why not take them for some fun indoor activities? Pet stores abound in Tennessee cities like Nashville, Knoxville, and Memphis that offer everything from pet groomers to training classes.

Some cities even have pet-friendly cafes where you can relax and get some coffee or snacks while your pup hangs out off-leash! What could be better?

North Carolina

North Carolina is another great choice for your little friends. It's the third best according to Safewise, and has plenty of pet-related laws in place to further protect your furry family members.

North Carolina boasts some of the strongest laws in the country protecting animals from harm or abuse. They even have animal emergency services and a ban on chaining dogs and other harmful tethering. They also enforce strict restrictions on puppy mills and pet stores, since these businesses are often rife with animal abuse cases.

The state government also allows local cities and towns to create their own independent animal control ordinance. It may even include some breed-specific legislation. The state further requires first-time offenders to attend an education course about responsible pet ownership, aside from paying a fine of course!

Lastly, this place has plenty of dog parks here which your pup can safely enjoy. It is home to some of nature’s most beautiful spots, providing lots of outdoors options for you and your fun-seeking friends.


Dog in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

When it comes to animals, you might not think of this area, but there are lots of great places for you and your best friends to explore in the Silver State. Nevada has something for everyone, from hot desert climates to cool mountain retreats and everything in between.

Take a look at the pet-friendly perks it offers:

Pet Laws

Pets here are protected by both state and local laws. They have policies which ensure proper licensing and vaccination requirements, as well as an active regulating body on animal cruelty. Much like North Carolina, they also have restrictions in place regarding tethering animals.

Pet Services

There is no need to worry about a sudden pet emergency, as there are many veterinarians available in this area. It also offers plenty of groomers and pet stores which can provide all necessities for your little buddies.

Outdoor Activities

If your pup loves the outdoors, you’re in luck! Nevada has plenty of outdoor areas for your pup to explore with plenty of trails for hiking or running around with their canine friends. Plus, Las Vegas offers a number of dog playgrounds for your pup to play in!


Here's a state that really steps up to the plate when it comes to going out of their way for animals. Vermont is considered one of the most pet-friendly states in the US and has plenty of amenities available.

First off, residents don't just benefit from pampered pets—the state has strict regulations on pet boarding and sellers, meaning that all of your four-legged friends live in safe, comfortable homes.

Outdoor activities

But what about outside? Vermont offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures with your pup, including trails specifically designed for pet owners. Some places even have pet-friendly beaches and swimming spots so you can give your pooch a well-deserved break from all that exercise on the trails.

No breed discrimination

Another huge positive when it comes to looking after pets? There's no breed discrimination in this state—meaning whether you own a pit bull or an Akita, you don't have to worry about being judged or discriminated against thanks to laws prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on breeds alone. Pretty great, right?

Ranking Of Worst States For Pets

A scared dog on a leash in one of the worst states for pets

You may be surprised to find out that not all states are created equal when it comes to keeping your friends safe and happy. Here’s a rundown of some of the states that Safewise lists as the worst for pet owners:

New Mexico

If you are thinking about moving to New Mexico with your beloved furry friends, it might not be the best decision. Sadly, this state is considered one of the worst in the U.S. for pet owners.

Why is that? For starters, New Mexico has a high rate of pet abandonment and neglect cases each year. This means that many pets in need go without proper care or attention. In addition, New Mexico has some of the highest pet shelter fees in the country. This can make it difficult for people to afford the necessary treatments and vaccinations their pets may need.

Furthermore, New Mexico ranks low on regulations regarding animal cruelty and abuse which makes it harder to punish perpetrators of these heinous acts against animals. 


When it comes to the worst state for pets to live in, Montana is near the top of the list. It has some of the highest levels of pet neglect, with particularly high numbers of animals being abandoned and surrendered every year.

The winter weather isn’t overly friendly either. It can get very cold and there’s a lack of options for indoor play activities like pet-friendly restaurants.

In addition to that, Montana has some rather stringent regulations when it comes to its pet licensing. This includes an annual fee and the requirement that all dogs over six months old must be spayed or neutered before they can be registered. There are also particular breed restrictions you'll need to adhere to if you live in cities like Bozeman and Missoula.

It's important to note that while these restrictions are in place, animal welfare is at least taken seriously in Montana. There are plenty of organizations dedicated to making sure pets have access to food and veterinary care if needed, as well as shelters for those who need a place to stay.


When it comes to the worst state for your pet, Connecticut is in the running. This tiny state is packed with potential risks for Fido due to its high population density and lots of traffic.

Dangerous Roads

Connecticut has some of the most dangerous roads in the country, with some of the highest rates of fatal crashes. With so many cars on the road, it’s easy to see how a pet can get hurt or even killed by traffic.

Hot Weather

The hot and humid weather in Connecticut can be dangerous for animals that don't have access to shaded areas or air conditioning. In extreme cases, animals can suffer from heatstroke or sunburn which can be life threatening. Even walking your pet on hot days can cause paw pads to burn, so be sure to use pet-safe sunscreen and protective booties if you’re going outside during peak hours.

Lyme Disease & Other Health Risks

Connecticut is home to a number of animals that carry ticks and fleas, which can transmit Lyme Disease and other serious health risks to your pet. If you live here, it’s necessary to regularly check for signs of these hazards. Going for consistent vet check-ups is also a wise idea.

Choose A Pet-Friendly State For Your Darlings

Many factors make each state unique when it comes to being pet-friendly. With the right research and planning, you can eventually pick the state that is best for you and your pet.

When choosing, it's also essential to consider other factors such as the right environment for your pet, other special needs, as well as your budget. It should ultimately be a place that provides resources and a safe space for your furry family members.

If you want to do more in supporting our furry friends, then check out some of our amazing rescue shirts! We ensure that a portion of our proceeds are donated to no-kill animal shelters.


Why do so many places not allow pets?

Pets can cause damage to property. Dogs and cats, in particular, can scratch, chew, or tear apart furniture, carpets, and other items. This can be costly to repair or replace.

Additionally, pets may create a disturbance with noise and barking, bothersome odors, and unsanitary conditions. In a commercial or residential setting, this can pose a nuisance to other tenants or customers.

Furthermore, some people have allergies or phobias when it comes to pets. This can cause a health risk and adverse reactions when they are exposed to pets. Lastly, for some businesses or establishments, the presence of pets may not comply with health and safety regulations or may negatively impact their image or reputation.

How can I safely travel with my pets?

Make sure they have all their necessary vaccinations and preventative medications, such as heartworm prevention. You should also make sure they're wearing ID tags with your contact information and/or are microchipped in case they get lost. Prepare a comfortable carrier or harness for them to travel in and allow them to get familiar with it before the trip.

Also, plan ahead for their food and water needs during the journey and take breaks regularly for them to stretch their legs and use the restroom. Finally, double-check any regulations or restrictions for bringing pets into your destination, such as quarantine requirements or airline policies.

How has the pandemic affected pet ownership?

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a surge in pet ownership across the world. As people are spending more time at home due to lockdown restrictions, many have turned to adopting or fostering pets for companionship and emotional support. According to a recent study, the number of people searching for pets to adopt or buy has seen a phenomenal increase since the pandemic began.

However, the pandemic has also posed challenges for pet owners. The closure of pet stores and veterinary clinics has made it difficult for some pet owners to take care of their pets. In addition, some people who have lost their jobs or experienced financial hardships may struggle to afford to care for their pets.

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Kevin Wales - August 24, 2015

The first letter of USA means united. I don’t see anything united about the USA in many aspects. From where I am in Europe, it is a big joke. Well no, not a joke as it is serious but you know what I mean.

Meg Vann - August 23, 2015

So proud to say I made my first purchases for myself and my son from your company! I will be making many more knowing a percentage goes to no kill animal shelters!

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