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Humane Society of the United States names America’s Most Humane City

By Gary Bogue
Monday, April 30th, 2007 at 8:41 am in HSUS names most humane city.

San Francisco Bay Area “Most Humane” in the Nation
I know this won’t come as a big surprise to those of us who live here, but the S.F. Bay Area ranks first in compassion for animals according to a new comparison of the largest U.S. cities, The HSUS announced today.

And the S.F. Bay Area didn’t just win — it is more than twice as humane as the average large U.S. city!

The HSUS ranked the 25 largest metropolitan areas according to criteria such as vegetarian restaurants per capita and Congressional leadership on animal issues. Seattle came in second, and Portland rounds out the top three. West Coast cities generally performed better than other areas of the country. Washington, DC, ranked fourth, San Diego fifth, Los Angeles sixth, Boston seventh, Tampa and Baltimore tied for eighth, and Riverside placed tenth.

The Humane Index, an effort to determine America’s most humane city, ranked the nation’s largest 25 metropolitan areas.

“Our society’s treatment of animals has so many facets, and the Humane Index is an attempt to measure a wide range of conduct that has implications for animals. We hope the Index inspires individuals and entire communities to strive to do better to make the world a more merciful place for animals,” said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO.

The first-ever Humane Index is comprised of a dozen factors selected to provide a basis for comparing the relative humaneness of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. The Index includes topics related to pets, farm animals, wildlife, animals in entertainment and advocacy for animals and demonstrates that Americans extend their compassion beyond the millions of pets who share our homes.

The full results are available on-line at This interactive web site allows you to view details on each index item, see how various cities rank, compare two cities, and learn how you can take action to make your city more humane.

The Humane Index revealed several positive aspects about the treatment of animals in the Bay Area, which makes the top five in all but four categories and the top ten in all but two.

** Puppy savers. San Francisco is the top city in avoiding the cruelty of puppy mills, with only nine percent of pet stores selling puppies from commercial operations that breed dogs in shockingly poor conditions.

** Grabbing cameras, not shotguns. In California, there are 20.9 wildlife watchers for every hunter.

** Eating their veggies. The Bay Area places first for humane dining, with 40 vegetarian/vegan restaurants.

HSUS chief economist Jennifer Fearing conceived of and developed the Humane Index project over the last several years with research support from the Seattle-based Humane Research Council. The 2007 edition of the Humane Index is the first attempt to determine how America’s biggest metro areas — making up 41 percent of total U.S. population and including nearly 5,000 cities and towns — rank in terms of animal protection issues and will provide a baseline for future reference.

“With its wealth of vegetarian restaurants, a dozen institutions that have adopted cage-free egg policies, and only 10 fur retailers, it’s no surprise that San Francisco, which is named for the patron saint of animals, is America’s most humane city,” said Fearing. “But despite its excellent record, there is always room for improvement.”

The HSUS says the Bay Area has room for improvement in the following areas:

** San Francisco has numerous markets where turtles, fish, frogs, and other live animals are sold for food. In 2000, a law was passed to protect frogs, turtles and birds under California animal cruelty statutes that prohibit stores from skinning and dismembering live animals or storing and displaying them in ways likely to result in injury, starvation, or suffocation.

** Pitbulls and pit mixes are by far the most frequently confiscated dogs in Oakland — and are also the breed most often euthanized at shelters across Alameda County. Animal control officers usually pick these dogs up roaming the streets, many of them abused, scarred and unfit for adoption. According to the interim director of Oakland Animal Services, backyard breeders are the heart of the problem.

HSUS developed the Humane Index to show how individual action adds up to create humane communities. The study will be repeated every two years. You can read more about HSUS and its many great animal programs at

It will be interesting to see if there are any improvements over the next two years, and what cities make them.

Any bets?

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2 Responses to “Humane Society of the United States names America’s Most Humane City”

  1. JB Says:

    Portland got 3rd AND 4th?

  2. Gary Says:

    JB: Thanks for pointing that out. I fixed it (I listed the top 10). /Gary

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