HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is ranked one of the least pet-friendly states, according to a new national ranking.
The report from Safewise, a Utah company that studies home security and safety, ranked Hawaii as the 44th friendliest state to own a pet in the country based on a variety of factors, including the number of anti-abuse laws, veterinarians and no-kill shelters in the state.
But for dog owner and Oahu resident Stephen Tom, the key for him was if parks and beaches were pet-friendly.
“I wish we could take them to the beach, though, so that they could run in the ocean and stuff like that," Tom said.
“It’s kind of sad that they’re not allowed to go in the ocean.”
Some of Oahu’s most popular beaches completely restrict pets, including Ala Moana Beach, the Ko Olina lagoons and parts of Waikiki.
Kailua is a well-known beach that allows leashed dogs.
Tom said he felt bad for one of his dogs who always had to be leashed during their daily walks, but it was “hard because some places dogs are prohibited.”
Tom noted that if the government placed more off-leash dog parks in the city, he would “definitely” take his dogs out more.
Stephanie Kendrick, the public policy advocate for the Hawaii Humane Society in Oahu, said access to public places is especially important for dog owners.
“Dogs need exercise, they need to be integrated into the family, and so access to parks, beaches, hiking trails that sort of thing is really important and there’s a huge lack there,” Kendrick said.
According to Kendrick, fewer than half of the city of Honolulu’s parks and only 25% of Oahu’s state parks are open to leashed dogs walking with their owners for exercise.
Kendrick added that there are only seven off-leash dog parks on the island, which is “much lower per capita" than states like Oregon, which ranked first in the report.
Some beaches are open to leashed dogs, Kendrick said, but the rules vary and they get “kind of complicated."
Another place Kendrick said would help increase pet-friendliness is restaurants.
A bill for restaurant owners to allow pets was introduced to the Legislature this past year didn’t pass, but Kendrick says the effort is still there.
“A lot of restaurants recognize that this is really important to their customers and they want to be able to serve that market," Kendrick said.
Last year, Hawaii was ranked as a “bottom tier” state when it came to animal protection laws, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Kendrick said in order to raise Hawaii’s rankings, the mindset in the islands needed to shift.
“I think it’s a matter of changing attitudes. We’ve really evolved as a society from pets as guard dogs or having cats as barn animals," Kendrick said.
"Now they’re really part of our families and with that evolution we need to make our community more pet-friendly, more welcoming to that new attitude of pets as family members.”
Kendrick added that to help encourage the government to increase the number of public spaces where pets are allowed that pet owners should always “behave responsibly and be good community citizens.”
“Keep your animals on a leash, keep control of your animals, pick up after them. We want to have access to these spaces and in order to preserve that access or increase that access we need to behave responsibly ourselves," Kendrick said.
“It really does take the voices of the community to make things better for animals.”
To view the full report, click here.