What makes a city pet-friendly and how can a city get there?
Building on the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ model, here are 12 things cities can do to start making immediate progress toward being more pet-friendly. They can be mixed and matched, and tackled in any order – the key is just continuing momentum.
1. Schedule a meeting. Get representative of all your local shelters and rescues together in a room to share info and discuss opportunities to collaborate to help get more pets adopted. Find helpful insights for discussion in our State of Pet Homelessness Index.
2. Tout your local shelter. When city leaders show their support of pet adoption, it helps spread the word. For example, Nashville Mayor John Cooper and his team regularly invite shelter pets for a day-long foster visit so they can get out of the shelter. Social posts help promote that the pets are available for adoption. Check out some of the cute posts here and here.
3. Get up to speed on TNR. Homeless cats are an issue in many communities across the country, but there are ways pet-friendly cities can humanely address overpopulation. Check out our Community Cat Toolkit for an overview.
4. Check your policies. Assess whether any city ordinances or other legislation stands in the way of pet ownership and put plans in place to work on changes where needed. View our Pet-Friendly Housing Toolkit here.
5. Understand the data. Often, keeping a pet in a home requires just a small investment of support in an owner’s time of need. Watch this video about pet homelessness. See if local organizations could collaborate on pet-friendly “safety net” services like a pet food pantry or reduced-cost medical services.
6. Talk with housing developers. Encourage local developers and property managers to consider the benefits of making pets welcome with amenities like pet relief areas and pet drinking fountains.
7. Check your green space. When there’s room to be active outdoors with pets, it supports healthy people and pets. Assess where pet-friendly parks are located throughout your community and where green space might be needed.
8. Cover the basics. To live a healthy, hygienic life with pets, people need access to basic amenities including pet relief areas and fresh drinking water. If your city doesn’t have them, start planning additions for your next budget year.
9. Educate everywhere. Use signage to direct people to pet-related amenities but also educate about responsible pet ownership. Check out our sample language for hydration stations and waste stations, and our signage starter guide (PDF) for more messages to help.
10. Get businesses involved. Busy people want to spend time with their pets. By making pets welcome, businesses encourage customers to visit more and stay longer. Use the Pets Welcome toolkit to kick off a pet-friendly business program.
11. Make travel easier. Assess transportation in your city and help promote the pet-friendly choices. A “pet-friendly options” page on your city website can make getting around much easier for residents and visitors. Check out our Pet-Friendly Airport toolkit, too.
12. Be a pet-friendly employer. Make city buildings and facilities pet-friendly to support and demonstrate the benefits of pets at work. This toolkit will help you get started.
Other resources to explore:
- Keeping People and Pets Together: Mars Petcare 2021 Report
- Playbook for Pet-Friendly Cities (PDF)
- Adapting Environments for City Pets: A Q&A
- Pet-Friendly City Assessment