A California Town's Local Government Is Run Entirely By Dogs

All for woof and woof for all.

golden retriever runs local government In Green / Shutterstock

Idyllwild is an unincorporated community in Southern California. It’s one of three unincorporated communities in the San Jacinto Mountains, adjacent to Pine Cove and Fern Valley.

It's known for its scenery, but its unique approach to politics is also noteworthy.

The California town’s local government is run entirely by dogs.

In 2012, Idyllwild held its first mayoral elections, only no human politicians ran for office. Instead, a local nonprofit organization, Animal Rescue Friends, held the elections, which spanned from June 11, 2012 until June 13, 2012. 




Votes cost $1 and all proceeds from the election went to Animal Rescue Friends. Idyllwild humans were able to nominate their pets for political office — 14 dogs and two cats ran.

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Idyllwild’s pet-based mayoral election raised $31,000 for Animal Rescue Friends. The donated funds went towards Sadie's Clinic, a veterinarian service, which offered the animal community health and wellness care, including vaccines, other medical treatments, and nail trims. 

So much money was raised that Animal Rescue Friends floated the idea of developing a lottery system that would offer financial support to those who needed to spay or neuter their furry friends

A California Town's Local Government Is Run Entirely By DogsPhoto: Joop Snijder Photography / Shutterstock


The ASPCA estimates that 6.3 million animals enter shelters annually: 3.1 million dogs and 3.2 million cats. They estimate that approximately 920,000 shelter animals are euthanized, which breaks down to 390,000 dogs and 530,000 cats. The ASPCA also reports that 4.1 million shelter animals are adopted each year: 2 million dogs and 2.1 million cats.

On July 1, 2012, the mayoral race outcomes were announced, with much fanfare and celebration.

The Idyllwild election was won by Max, a golden retriever who vowed to serve as the first dog-mayor.

In his oath of office, which Max took on his dog food bowl, the furry politician pledged to “faithfully execute my duties.” Those duties included promoting the town and making appearances at outdoor concerts, festivals, and the annual Independence Day parade.



Mayor Max also pledged to “speak out on behalf of the animals of this mountain, domesticated and non-domesticated.”


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Mayor Max was joined by his vice-mayor, Hogan, and his all-dog cabinet members, including Inky, the “Litter”acy ambassador, Kula, the pet tourism ambassador, and Stitch, the hydrant and sanitation commissioner.

A California Town's Local Government Is Run Entirely By DogsPhoto: Petr Jilek / Shutterstock


Max’s one-year term was extended to a second year. After his tenure, Mayor Max’s successor, Maximus Mighty Dog Mueller II, stepped in. Max II was flanked in his leadership role by two deputies — Mikey and Mitzi, who were related to the first Mayor Max.

Mayor Max II served a 9-year term. In true political family fashion, Max III, who was born in September 2022, took over, as a young yet capable dog-mayor. Meadow is the town’s current vice-mayor, alongside Max III. 

Critics might complain about the doggie-based nepotism that seems to be in play. Yet a more positive spin on the situation would be to say that Max and his descendants have clearly found their true calling in serving the people of Idyllwild.


Their stronghold in the puppy political sphere has raised both funding and awareness for abandoned animals in Idyllwild, a cause that is worth standing up for by both people and pups alike.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.