St. Petersburg Joins BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ National Initiative

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St. Petersburg Florida joins the Better Cities for Pets program

City is second in Florida to join movement for happier, healthier lives for people and pets

PETERSBURG, FLA. (June 22, 2018) – The city of St. Petersburg is participating in Mars Petcare’s BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ movement to make St. Petersburg an even happier, healthier and more welcoming place for pets. The initiative includes 12 traits of a pet-friendly city, ranging from collaboration to reduce pet homelessness to restaurants and businesses that are welcoming to pets.

The city will outline its participation in the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ initiative at a news conference at 11 a.m. Friday, June 22 at City Hall, 175 5th St. N in downtown St. Petersburg.

The City has developed a program called St. Pete Paws to collaborate with organizations that support pets and their owners to make St. Petersburg a city where pets are welcome, and owners are caring, nurturing guardians who are working together to provide safe and secure environments.

“The BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ movement aligns closely with our focus on being a city of opportunity for all – which includes our pets,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. “We used the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program’s criteria to take a look at the resources available to pets and their owners, and we found that we’re already an incredibly supportive community for pets, but we’re aiming to do even more.”

City officials and staff are working closely with Mars Petcare, BluePearl Veterinary Partners, Pinellas County Veterinary Medical Association and animal welfare agencies like SPCA Tampa Bay, PetPal Animal Shelter, Friends of Strays and Pinellas County Animal Services to assess St. Petersburg’s current resources for pets and identify opportunities to make it an even better place for pets.

St. Petersburg already has plentiful pet-friendly amenities, from pet-friendly hotels and restaurants to kennels, doggie daycares and veterinarians to fire stations that are outfitted with special airway equipment for pets.

The city plans to develop a pet-friendly business program to encourage more businesses to welcome pets. These pet-friendly businesses make it easier for pets and their owners to share experiences, and it can keep pets healthier by making pets less likely to be left in a car when an owner needs to make a stop, which reduces the risk of heatstroke.

“Pets rely on us to keep them healthy, and this initiative makes pet health and happiness a shared responsibility for our community,” said Dr. Jimmy Barr, Chief Medical Officer of BluePearl Veterinary Partners, which is part of the Mars Petcare company. “Even seemingly small changes like adding more water bowls and pet relief areas can have a big impact on a pet’s health.”

St. Petersburg is already seeing progress on the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program’s criteria that focuses on shelters. Several of Pinellas County’s animal welfare agencies have been collaborating on countywide initiatives, and it’s positively impacting pets. Pinellas County’s live release rate – measured by adoptions, transfers and other factors – reached a six-year high at 73 percent in 2017. In addition, trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) programs that started in 2014 are keeping community cats healthier and limiting the number of litters born into community cat colonies.

“A community that’s welcoming and supportive of pets leads to fewer pets being surrendered to local shelters,” said Martha Boden, CEO, SPCA Tampa Bay. “This initiative will lead to more pets living in healthy, happy homes.”

Over the coming months, the local collaborators working under the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ initiative will work together to identify additional areas of focus for pet-friendliness. Focus areas may include increased support of pets in public and commercial spaces through a pet-friendly business program, more pet-friendly housing options and better access to reliable information on pet behavior and health.

About BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™
BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ is a program of Mars Petcare U.S., the world’s leading pet nutrition and health care business, created to help communities become more pet-friendly by bringing the voice of pets and their owners to places of influence and advocating for fewer pets in shelters, more pet-friendly places, and happier, healthier lives for both people and pets. Mars Petcare works with key partners, businesses and local governments to better understand how to improve communities by: providing safe and welcoming shelters that lead to forever homes; encouraging pet-friendly, responsible homes for pets; welcoming more pets into local businesses, and giving pets plenty of park space to play. For more information about Mars Petcare and BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™, visit www.bettercitiesforpets.com.

About Mars Petcare U.S.

Mars Petcare is a diverse and growing business with 75,000 Associates across 50+ countries all dedicated to building our vision: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS™, by serving the health and nutrition needs of almost half the world’s pets. With over 75 years of experience, Mars Petcare has developed an enviable portfolio of almost 50 brands, including the leading global pet nutrition brands PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, ROYAL CANIN®, NUTRO™, GREENIES™, SHEBA®, CESAR®, IAMS™ and EUKANUBA™. Mars Petcare is also the world’s largest veterinary health provider through a network of over 2,000 pet hospitals including BANFIELD™, BLUE PEARL™, PET PARTNERS™, and VCA™. The company is also at the forefront of emerging innovation and technology for pets, pet owners and veterinarians, with WISDOM HEALTH™, a patented genetic technology testing for dogs and the WHISTLE™ GPS dog tracker, as well as the LEAP VENTURE STUDIO accelerator and COMPANION FUND™ programs to support startup innovation and the next generation of disruptors in the pet care industry. As part of the Mars family of companies, we are privileged with the freedom and the flexibility to fight for what we believe in – and we choose to fight to make our vision a reality.