Downtown and Main Street organizations across the country that want to make pets welcome have a great model in pet-friendly Franklin, Tennessee. It was the first communities to pilot the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program and continues to lead the way in making pets welcome.
Franklin Mayor Ken Moore explained, “Pets have always been a passion of mine, and I’m thrilled that Franklin was selected to pilot test the ‘Pets Welcome’ program with our local businesses. As a growing, community-driven city, Franklin is the perfect setting to test out the positive impact of pets in more places and offers the ideal foundation to explore the impact of trends we are seeing across the country.”
Over 90 Participating Businesses
Recognizing the power of collaboration, Franklin’s program started as a coordinated effort between the city, Downtown Franklin Association and the Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau. The idea was to implement a coordinated, community-wide slate of pet-friendly business practices.
More than 90 businesses agreed to participate, with a shared pet code of conduct, consistent signage, materials for in-store education and the kickoff event that brought the community together in celebration of pets. You can download the city’s map of participating businesses here.
Franklin also installed pet waste stations throughout the downtown core, making it easier for visitors to be there with pets.
These kinds of amenities have become a mainstay of the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program. Not only do they assist pet owners; they also provide important educational messaging about responsible pet ownership and picking up after pets.
“You Can Bring Your Pets!” to Pet-Friendly Franklin
Reaction to the program has been very positive. Here are quotes from a few local participants:
- “You can bring your pets after work. You can come down here and shop or have a cocktail or dinner on the patios. So you no longer have to go home after work, or when you just want to go shopping, you can bring your pets to downtown Franklin with you.” – Joni Cole, Gray’s on Main and Downtown Franklin Association Member
- “People were so excited when they found out their dogs could come inside. And the pet owners are very respectful! We haven’t had any issues, just enthusiasm. We added some pet items for sale, and those are doing well, too.” – Holly Williams, White’s Mercantile
- “As a restaurant, health codes don’t let us allow pets inside, but we made our patio pet friendly. It’s been a huge hit. We notice that patrons linger, and they seem to have a great time when their pet is camped out by their feet.” – Sharon Davis, 55 South
Plus, says Ellie Westman Chin, President & CEO, Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, “It’s been interesting to see the excitement on social media about our visitors’ experience in downtown Franklin now that pets are welcome. Being pet friendly has increased the buzz about Franklin and makes the city a welcoming destination for visitors and their furry family members, which is great for all the local merchants.”
Making Life Better for Pets and Pet Owners
Since the launch, the pet-friendly Franklin community has continued to tout its welcoming status, inspiring more visitors (and more pets!) throughout Downtown Franklin.
Plus, Franklin continues to be an active supporter of programs that help pets and businesses. Mars Petcare worked with American Humane in 2018 to launch a service dog toolkit for businesses, and our partners in Downtown Franklin played a pivotal role, offering use of their spaces for filming and talking about their experiences with service dogs.
Pets are Good for Business
When people can bring pets with them for errands or entertainment, they get companionship and a chance to stay longer, not worrying about pets left at home. That’s why pet-friendly businesses are a key part of our 12 Traits of Pet-Friendly Cities Model.
To learn more and make your city pet friendly, check out these resources:
- Playbook for Pet-Friendly Cities
- Pets Welcome Toolkit
- Pets Work at Work Toolkit
- Service Dogs Toolkit
- BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ store