When green space isn’t readily available for pets, there are always creative ways to add more. Here’s just one example, where volunteers from Mars Petcare helped add and renovate green spaces near a Nashville animal shelter.
Pet needs are included in city, park and green space planning.
When dogs have room to run and play, it can help keep them healthy, reduce anxiety or boredom, and stimulate their minds. Plus, playing with other dogs helps improve social skills. Being active with pets is good for people, too. Studies have shown higher levels of activity in kids from families with dogs – an important factor in maintaining a healthy weight. Also, older adults with dogs tend to be more active than others, and to stay active longer. In pet-friendly cities, there’s plenty of green space and pets are welcome. Dog parks strengthen and contribute to interaction between dog owners, and community relationships get stronger. This is known as “social capital” – the ties that bind people to their communities and to each other. Pets are an important part of it, so they should be part of urban planning conversations.
To live a healthy, hygienic life with a pet, people need access to basic amenities like pet relief areas and fresh water to stay hydrated. Free pet waste bags and nearby trash receptacles provide a helping hand when pet owners forget to bring a bag from home. Water fountains support good health for both people and pets, and are especially important in warmer climates and seasons. Dogs need more water than people do, especially when it’s hot outside. In pet-friendly cities, space is set aside and infrastructure exists to support the needs of pets and pet owners. Where a framework isn’t in place, projects can be budgeted to close the gaps.
People know the expectations for pets in public places
Nearly 50% of dog owners list exercise with their pet as a benefit of pet ownership. More than 65% say pet ownership relieves stress. So, having pet-friendly parks and public spaces supports important health benefits. The unfortunate reality, however, is that many pet owners may not know the requirements for being out in public with a pet. Or, they may not know how to live up to them. Responsibilities like using a leash, picking up pet waste and maintaining control of pets are key. It’s also important to help people – and especially children – recognize signs that a pet is uncomfortable and may bite. In pet-friendly cities, signage and public education help make sure people understand what’s expected of them and their pets. This helps communities be more accepting of pets, since they know responsible pet ownership is a must.