Mars Petcare and U.S. Conference of Mayors Announce 2019 BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ Grant Recipients

Celebrating the grants: pictured left to right are Lisa Campbell, Mars Petcare; Stephen K. Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, SC and President of U.S. Conference of Mayors; grant recipient Rick Kriseman, Mayor of St. Petersburg, FL; grant recipient Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, OH; Mike Mayers, Mars Petcare; and Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Grants Awarded to Three Cities to Support Pet-Friendly Initiatives

HONOLULU, June 30, 2019 Today, BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™, a Mars Petcare program, in partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), announced its 2019 grant recipients: St. Petersburg, Fla., Dayton, Ohio, and Key West, Fla. with grants totaling $60,000. Each of the three cities will be using the grant funding to develop programs that create more welcoming places for people and pets. The grant recipient announcement aligns with the 87th U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Summer Meeting, taking place this week in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Since 2017, the Mars Petcare BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program has impacted more than 100 cities, providing $160,000 in grants, a million dollars in pet food donations, as well as resources and city-specific guidance to help more communities become pet-friendly. Furthermore, the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program has taken an active role in positively impacting legislation, lobbying for several policy changes to make communities more pet friendly.


  • Large City Winner: St. Petersburg/PAWS Speaks: With its $30,000 grant, the city will create a comprehensive education and communications program called St. Pete PAWS Speaks. This will include an educational mini-parklet (a mini version of the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ parklet) that can be set up at events or trade shows to promote St. Pete PAWS and responsible pet ownership, with graphics showing cover for shade, fencing, hydration and waste stations and seating. The city will also be able to refresh signage to include seasonal messaging while providing information on how to maintain a thriving, pet-friendly community.
  • Medium City Winner: Dayton/Wagtown® K-1 Curriculum: With its $20,000 grant, Dayton will help develop a new generation of pet parents by partnering with Wagtown to teach the fundamentals of responsible pet ownership to students in the community. Following the local launch, the curriculum will be available nationwide, providing students with information they need to become responsible and caring pet parents.
  • Small City Winner: Key West/Pet Wellness: With its $10,000 grant, the city will help keep furry companions off the streets and out of shelters by offering pet wellness services for free or at a reduced cost for income-qualified pet owners. In partnership with the Florida Keys SPCA, the city seeks to ease the financial burden for pet parents in need of routine and preventative care.

“The 2019 BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ grant winners are driving real change that we’re proud to support through our program,” said Jam Stewart, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Mars Petcare. “The work they’re doing is paving the way for a more pet-friendly future.”

Cities seeking grants were required to demonstrate a commitment to existing and future pet-friendly community efforts. Applicants were asked to categorize their pet-friendly efforts into two areas: education and programming or pet-friendly infrastructure.

“What we’ve learned through our collaboration with Mars Petcare is cities that celebrate our pets are cities that are healthier, and happier places for people to live,” said USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran. “Our hope, as always, is that the grants will not only support these Mayors’ efforts to improve the quality of life in their communities, but that they will serve as national models for other cities to follow. We look forward to continuing this collaboration and remain grateful to Mars Petcare for their continued support.”

The partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors aligns with Mars Petcare’s purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS™. Through the grant program, cities showcase how they are welcoming two and four-legged citizens in their communities and grant recipients have access to resources and tools to expand their pet-friendly efforts.

To learn more about the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program, please visit:

The BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program was created by Mars Petcare US, the world’s leading pet nutrition and health care business, 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 the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program, visit

About Mars Petcare
Mars Petcare is a diverse and growing business with 85,000 Associates across 50+ countries dedicated to one purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS™. With 75 years of experience, our portfolio of almost 50 brands serves the health and nutrition needs of the world’s pets – including brands PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, ROYAL CANIN®, NUTRO™, GREENIES™, SHEBA®, CESAR®, IAMS™ and EUKANUBA™ as well as The WALTHAM™ Centre for Pet Nutrition which has advanced research in the nutrition and health of pets for over 50 years. Mars Petcare is also a leading veterinary health provider through a network of over 2,000 pet hospitals including BANFIELD™, BLUEPEARL™, PET PARTNERS™, VCA™, LINNAEUS and ANICURA. We’re also active in innovation and technology for pets, with WISDOM PANEL™ genetic health screening and DNA testing for dogs, the WHISTLE™ GPS dog tracker, and LEAP VENTURE STUDIO accelerator and COMPANION FUND™ programs that drive innovation and disruption in the pet care industry. As a family business and guided by our principles, we are privileged with the flexibility to fight for what we believe in – and we choose to fight for: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS.

About The United States Conference of Mayors
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1,400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Like us on Facebook at, or follow us on Twitter at

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