Stroll down First Street or go out to Community Park, and you’ll see why Benicia has earned its reputation as a dog-friendly city.

“What makes Benicia a dog-friendly town? Many things,” said Karen Hanna, owner of Pups N Purrz, 422 First St. “For example, the city provides doggie waste bags on First Street and in the dog park. Businesses put out water, and sometimes provide snacks. Outdoor seating along First Street makes it friendly for anyone walking their dog.”

In 2010, Dog Fancy Magazine said Benicia was the fourth most dog-friendly city in the United States, falling just behind Princeton, Mass.; Carmel, Calif.; and Madison, Wis.“We’re not Carmel, but we’re getting there,” Hanna says, “The dog park made a huge difference.” Named for a Benicia police dog, Phenix Dog Park, in the northwest corner of Community Park, 100 Community Park Drive, offers tree shade, water for pets and people, and separate areas for large and small dogs.

People enjoy walking their dogs downtown and dining outdoors with their pets nearby. “More and more people are getting dogs,” says Karen Hubbard, who owns Featherer Pets (1202 East Fifth St.) with her sister, Kim Duchene. “Benicia has a lot of families. It’s a nice little community, a dog loving community.” When access into parks by leashed dogs was threatened a few years ago, dog owners banded together to keep that privilege; a clear testament to Benicians’ dedication to their furry friends.

Pet Adoption in Benicia

You’ll see a wide range of breeds across Benicia. While some citizens have their preference of breed and pedigree, most who are looking for a compatible companion look to shelters or special adoption events that take place at Benicia’s pet stores. “Adoption has been a trend for a while,” says Hubbard. This trend is undoubtedly the upshot of an effort California has made to end puppy and kitten “mills” by banning the sale of cats and dogs in shops.

Those looking to adopt can do so at various adoption events in local pet shops or at the Humane Society of the North Bay (HSNB), 1121 Sonoma Blvd., Vallejo. The HSNB website,, is also a great tool to preview animals before visiting the adoption center for a “meet and greet.” Prospective pet owners can play with the animal on the HSNB campus, ask questions of staff and take the dog for a short walk.

For those unsure whether they’re ready to adopt, fostering is a great option. As a nonprofit organization, the Humane Society relies heavily on volunteers, who either foster animals at home, or help care for and walk each dog at the shelter. “We can always use more walkers and volunteers,” says Wendy B. Jones, executive director of HSNB.

Adoption fees at HSNB range from $20-$60 and cover vaccines, spaying or neutering, microchipping, and dog licenses. Those adopting pets get a bag of food, coupons and information on registering the microchip.

“’Rescued’ is my favorite breed,” says Jones. “All animals deserve to be loved and cared for. You can make a difference in an animal’s life by loving them … Don’t shop – adopt!”