The Community, Culture and Behavior of Dogs in San Francisco

Sep 26, 2011

Host: Lauren Meltzer

Producer: Lisa Denenmark

San Francisco, a city of 805,000 people, is the second-most densely populated large city in the U.S., after New York City.

According to the San Francisco Animal Care and Control, about a fourth to one-third of all San Francisco households have at least one dog, for an estimated population of 120,000 to 140,000 dogs living in the city. That’s more dogs than the 112,000 estimate of city children.

Why is there such a high number of dogs? What is the role of socialization, community, and culture in sustaining and managing healthy human-pet relationships in the Bay Area? And what breeds of dog and people are best suited to the San Francisco urban environment?


  • Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, DVM, co-president of the San Francisco SPCA. A veterinarian with more than 20 years of experience in both non-profit and for-profit veterinary medicine. She has created a number of visionary programs, including Community Cares, a vaccine outreach program, and “Fospice,” a shelter program that uses foster homes to care for the most medically challenged shelter animals.
  •  Alison Smith, Co-owner and Director of Training and Behavior of Metro Dog a daycare, boarding, and training center in the Richmond. Her experience helping Bay Area families understand their canine friends combines knowledge gained from the myriad dogs who have passed through her life with insights of trainers, behaviorists, ethologists, and researchers with whom she has studied.