How to Apply for BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ City Certification

Today, 66% of U.S. households and 60% of Canadian households include a pet, so it’s more important than ever that cities offer pet-friendly programs and policies that help people and pets be together. Mars Petcare’s BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program aims to recognize and support cities that are taking steps to be pet friendly. Here’s some information to help you get started in applying for City Certification.

Who can apply

  • As a city certification, the assessment should be completed by someone within city government or a designated partner.
  • Some cities choose to have a city program or grants manager complete the assessment. Others empower a local nonprofit, such as an animal welfare organization, or an affiliated organization.
  • Whoever completes the assessment, you will need to affirm that the Mayor is aware of the submission and supportive of pet-friendly initiatives in your city.

What to expect

  • A first pass of the assessment should take less than an hour to complete.
  • Depending on your familiarity with local programs and policies, you may need to check with other teams to confirm answers, such as your animal welfare team or parks department.
  • We don’t expect any city to be perfect across all aspects of our pet-friendly cities model but do need to see evidence of the city’s commitment to pets and being pet-friendly.
  • Once you submit your city’s assessment, it will be reviewed by the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ team within approximately one to two weeks. You will be contacted at the email address you provided with your results and any follow-up questions.
  • Certification is currently being awarded for two-year periods. To be recertified, cities will need to update their assessment every two years to capture pet-friendly progress that’s been made.  

What’s in the assessment’s sections

  1. About You: Basic information about you, your city and how to contact you.
  2. About Your City: Demographics information about your city, number of pets and pet-friendly features.
  3. Pet-Friendly Programs and Policies: Your evaluation of your city based on key traits explained in the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ model
  4. “Looking Ahead” /Priority Projects or Programs: Your city’s pet-focused priorities for the next year. To be certified, cities need to be taking action on at least one pet-related priority.

What you’ll need

  • You’ll need to provide basic demographic data like population and number of households in your city, and general details about pet-related items like shelters, parks and businesses.
  • Your local animal welfare team, parks department and Chamber of Commerce should be able to advise on numbers you don’t know or can’t estimate.
  • For the “Programs and Policies” section, you’ll be evaluating programs and services that are available in your community. Start with your own knowledge and experience and check with relevant teams or resources where you have questions.
  • Since the certification depends on self-reporting, you’ll need to confirm that answers are accurate to the best of your ability. During the review process, you may be contacted regarding any questions that arise.

Tips to keep in mind

  • You can download a PDF of the assessment questions so you can review all the questions before beginning. Click here for the U.S. assessment here. Click here for the Canada assessment. (Cities in the U.S. and Canada are assessed by the same standards. The differences in the forms are things like choosing a state in the U.S. and a province in Canada.)
  • The goal of the assessment is to evaluate the programs and policies available to pet parents in your community. They do not all need to be provided by the city, just available there. For example, you can count that your city has a Trap-Neuter-Return program for outdoor cats if a local animal shelter has a program.
  • Be sure to answer every question, particularly in the policies and programs section. If answers are left blank, they are scored as “no”/”never.”
  • Check what’s communicated about pets on your city and parks websites and social media. We have found that many cities are surprised to discover how much communication they already have in place. Often, with a little coordination, this can become a valuable asset to your pet-friendly programs.
  • As noted above, you will need to specify at least one pet-friendly priority project for the year. Examples from other cities have included launching a pet-friendly business program in their downtown core; adding pet waste stations to public areas or parks; opening or expanding dog parks; passing “pets on patios” legislation or adding pet ownership education to their website or social media.
  • If your city is certified, you can also talk with your local airport authority about our BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ Airport Certification program. Learn more about it here.

Apply now

Click here to see the assessment and apply now.

We’re here to help

Have questions about the certification or how to answer a particular question? Email us at

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