For the first time in 50 years, Seattle has more than 100,000 children. But we all know there are way more fur babies on Capitol Hill.
If it comes to being the most dog-friendly city in the US, Seattle is top dog. That’s according to real estate broker Redfin and Rover, the Uber for dog sitters and walkers. The companies compiled a list of cities with the highest amounts of dog walkers, sitters and walks, and combined the data with the amount of home sale listings that mention “dog”. Both Seattle-based companies announced that their hometown was the number 1 dog-friendly city. Chicago and Denver came in second and third.
Brooklyn-based company DogSpot has come to the same conclusion: People in Seattle love dogs (and walking them). Next month, the company will install six high tech dog houses — to leave Fido in while shopping — in the Seattle area, including on the Hill, in a partnership with supermarket chain QFC.
“Seattle’s a tech-friendly and dog-obsessed city,” says Rebecca Eyre, director of communications at DogSpot. “Those things make it an amazing market for us.”
Two of the app-powered, lockable dog houses are coming to the QFC Broadway Market and Harvard Market locations on the Hill. The other dog houses will be spread out over QFC locations in Wallingford, Ballard and the University Village, with a sixth one located in Redmond.
The house-shaped dens are 46.5 inches high and around 30 inches wide and deep. They fit up to a 100-pound German Shepherd or two well-behaved small canine friends. The dog houses are “pretty fancy,” says Eyre. “They have hospital grade UV-light to kill bacteria and viruses. They also have air conditioning — which is more than what most Seattle homes have.”
Of course, there’s an app to see much like” a bike-share or Car2Go app”, when a DogSpot is free and make a reservation up to 15 minutes in advance. And for worried dog parents, there’s also a puppy cam.
DogSpot says they’ll start with just one DogSpot per QFC-location to fit the demand they’ve seen in other cities. Though the maximum “stay” is around 90 minutes, dog stay in the DogSpots for about 30 minutes on average, which means the chances are high enough a spot will be free when you need it. While in other DogSpot cities, such as Raleigh and St. Louis, users usually pay 30 cents per minute, in Seattle, all DogSpots use will be free — courtesy of QFC.
That’s partly a way to make up for the fact that the grocery chain doesn’t allow pets, only service animals, in their stores. Live animals, with the exception of service animals and patrol dogs, are not allowed in food establishments in Washington State. Some people solve the problem by tying their dog up to a pole or tree outside a store, though that’s unlawful if the dog’s on or can reach public property (like a sidewalk), according to the Seattle Municipal Code.
“But there are many reasons to not do it besides the fact that the code says it,” says Ann Graves, director of Seattle Animal Shelter, a division of the City of Seattle. “It’s not the safest thing for the dog. It can become frightened and bite someone, or if someone trips over the tether, there is some personal liability for the dog owner. My biggest fear is: What if I come out and the dog is gone?”
DogSpot might be a solution for those worried about dog thefts, though it’s not common, says Detective Mark Jamieson of the Seattle Police Department. CHS did not yet receive a response to a Public Disclosure Request regarding the number of dog thefts in Seattle in the past years. “It does happen but not with a sense of frequency,” Jamieson says.
In any case, the company’s expansion into Seattle marks the largest city network the company has launched so far. DogSpot, founded in 2015, currently has 60 dog houses across 14 states and is expanding aggressively into new cities, including this one.
Some of that has to do with Seattle’s much-advertised canine-to-kid ratio. Supposedly, there are more kids than dogs in the city, but the Seattle Animal Shelter’ estimate on the number of dogs in Seattle, around 150,000 to 160,000, is just that: an estimate.
According to data from the city, four zip codes north of the Ship Canal have the most licensed dogs in the city of Seattle. ZIP code 98122, which comprises parts of Capitol Hill, Madrona and the CD, is eighth on the list. However, those numbers are only the tip of the iceberg, as most dogs are not licensed. It might be that neighborhoods with more licensed dogs are just more diligent about getting a pet license.
Still, why is it that Capitol Hill, which is not even in the top 5 licensed-dogs owning zip codes, gets two dog houses in such proximity of one another?
Simple: millennials and walkability, DogSpot says.
“On Capitol Hill, people are walking to the grocery stores. When you have more people walking, you have more people walking with dogs,” Eyre says. “There are lot of young millennials in the neighborhood, people who are in the early stages of starting a family or don’t have one (yet). Those are the people who treat dogs like their family or children, and want to take care of them that way. They also don’t have backyards, so there’s more of an impetus to walk with their dog.”
Those millennials have recently supplanted baby boomers as the largest group of dog, cat and bird owners. They’ve also taken the humanization of their pets to another level, says research from American Pet Products, which means they’re more likely to give them vitamins, own “designer items” for their pet, pay for pet services and take their dog with them on errands.
That means that on the Hill, a good amount of the estimated 8,854 dogs (based on the AVMA calculating method) are probably living a pretty comfy life. A majority of those dogs are likely Labrador and Golden Retrievers, data from the city suggests. Next up in popularity is the Chihuahua and Border Collie.
What if one of those Chihuahuas gets nervous or claustrophobic, or both, and leaves a little gift in one of those DogSpots?
“Ah, yes, the old pee and poop question,” Eyre says. “In three years of operating, it just hasn’t happened. Reasons for this include: the sessions are short, the dog typically went on a walk to get there, and most importantly – dogs don’t soil environments that they occupy. We also trust that dog owners who know their dog has continence issues wouldn’t use DogSpot til their dog was fully potty trained; dog owners tend to be pretty mindful of each other in this way. However, if it did happen and the dog owner didn’t clean it up, we would see it on the Puppy Cam and take house offline while we dispatched someone to clean it up.”
Find more information and locations on hellodoggo.com.
SUBSCRIBE TO CHS If you appreciate and value CHS coverage, please tell your friends and neighbors TODAY to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment. Why support CHS? More here.