Mars Petcare Awards Seven Cities with Annual Grants, Celebrates Surpassing 100 Certified Cities Milestone for BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ Program

$130,000 in grant funding will help seven cities whose innovative programs are working to end pet homelessness

FRANKLIN, Tenn., (Jan. 18, 2023) – With an increasing number of pets entering animal shelters and pet adoptions not keeping pace[1], pet-friendly communities across the country are working to keep people and pets together. Through its BETTER CITIES FOR PETS program, Mars Petcare is helping by awarding grants to cities for the fifth year in a row, while celebrating over 100 cities across North America that are leading the way in pet friendliness.

Mars Petcare’s BETTER CITIES FOR PETS program, which was created in partnership with city planning and animal welfare experts and government stakeholders, helps cities become pet-friendly with free online resources, a playbook for cities, city and airport certification programs, grants, best practice research and policy advocacy. The program has awarded nearly half a million dollars in grants to support pet-friendly initiatives since its inception in 2017.

“Through our recent “Pets for Better Wellbeing” Report we know that more than ninety percent of pet parents feel that their relationship with their pets helped improve their mental and physical wellbeing over the last three years even while navigating the challenges of the pandemic,” said Lisa Campbell, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Mars Petcare. “With dogs and cats playing an increasingly important role in our lives, the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS program aims to help cities recognize and support the benefits pets bring through grants, toolkits and resources.”

Annual Grants Help Keep People and Pets Together

Mars Petcare’s latest BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ grants, awarded in November, aim to help cities assisting pet parents that are facing challenges keeping and caring for their pets. The grants are administered by Civic Design Center. Recipient cities with innovative programs include:

  • Bentonville, Arkansas – lessening the burden on shelters for pet reunification by expanding low-cost microchipping and empowering local organizations with chip scanners.
  • Fort Wayne, Indiana – providing community education about pet body language and behavior to reduce dog and other bites and, as a result, also reduce pet surrenders.
  • Houston, Texas – expanding reach for its Healthy Pets, Healthy Streets initiative through multilingual program materials and marketing to more pet parents in underserved areas.
  • Mission, Texas – creating a pet deposit assistance program for individuals in need, to help reduce housing-related separation of people and their pets.
  • Phoenix, Arizona – hiring a Homeless Community Counselor to help unhoused pet parents find housing, temporary boarding, pet supplies and other support to keep their pets.
  • Reno, Nevada – expanding a program to deliver veterinary services to senior citizens and unhoused pet parents so they can keep their pets in tough times.
  • Spokane, Washington – adding a pet expert liaison to the city’s new homeless shelter team to assist individuals with pet-related needs while in and when transitioning out of the shelter.

Quotes from Mayors of Cities Receiving Grants

  • “My goal is for our city to increase its return-to-owner rate. The funds from this grant are a tremendous asset to the community by providing low-cost microchips and education on the importance of microchipping.” – Mayor Stephanie Orman, Bentonville, Arkansas
  • “I am incredibly proud of the Healthy Pets, Healthy Streets initiative, our strategic, targeted approach to reduce pet overpopulation, promote pet wellness and educate Houstonians on responsible pet ownership in our community. We are grateful to Mars Petcare for providing us with this grant, which will support expanded marketing of Houston’s free spay and neuter services to communities impacted by the language barrier and digital divide.” – Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston, Texas
  • “Pets can’t speak for themselves, so it’s up to people and communities to advocate for them. We’re bringing together the public and Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control to work together to advocate for more pet-friendly policies.” – Mayor Tom Henry, Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • “We are thrilled to partner with the Mars Petcare Better Cities For Pets program to expand our efforts as a pet-friendly city. This grant opportunity will allow the city to eliminate barriers between pets and pet owners as the program will support pet rental deposits for those pet owners facing financial hardships. This initiative is a milestone for our community and will create a program that will keep families closer together with their pets for many years to come.” – Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza, Mission, Texas

Recognizing Cities Leading the Way on Pet-Friendliness

Along with awarding grants, the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program recently celebrated a milestone, surpassing 100 certified cities recognized for their pet-friendly efforts. Collectively, the 108 certified cities – located across 32 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada – are home to 8 million households with an estimated 4.9 million dogs and 3.7 million cats.

Data provided by these cities demonstrates their commitment to serving people and their pets:

  • 96% have food banks or animal welfare organizations that distribute pet food for local families in need
  • 93% report that restaurants in their city welcome pets (on outdoor patios, for example)
  • 90% include pets in their city emergency/resiliency planning
  • 81% allow pet ownership without breed restrictions
  • 71% have a program to educate citizens about responsible pet ownership

Communities interested in becoming more pet-friendly and joining the growing list of certified cities can visit BetterCitiesForPets.com to explore the program’s free toolkits and other resources, as well as apply for certification.

Full List of Certified Cities

  • Agoura Hills, Calif.
  • Aiken, S.C.
  • Alexandria, Va.
  • Arlington, Texas
  • Arlington, Va.
  • Austin, Texas
  • Bartlett, Tenn.
  • Bellevue, Ohio
  • Bentonville, Ark.
  • Bloomington, Ind.
  • Bound Brook, N.J.
  • Brentwood, Tenn.
  • Caledon, Ontario
  • Calumet City, Ill.
  • Camuy, Puerto Rico
  • Carmichael, Calif.
  • Central Falls, R.I.
  • Clay, N.Y.
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Columbia, S.C.
  • Cuero, Texas
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Dania Beach, Fla.
  • Daytona Beach, Fla.
  • Dearborn, Mich.
  • Downey, Calif.
  • Dublin, Calif.
  • Edinburg, Texas
  • Everett, Wash.
  • Findlay, Ohio
  • Fort Smith, Ark.
  • Fort Wayne, Ind.
  • Franklin, Tenn.
  • Gainesville, Fla.
  • Gresham, Ore.
  • Hallandale Beach, Fla.
  • Henderson, Nev.
  • Hendersonville, Tenn.
  • Hollywood, Fla.
  • Houston, Texas
  • Hughson, Calif.
  • Huntington, W.Va.
  • Independence, Iowa
  • Jackson, Wyo.
  • Kansas City, Mo.
  • Key West, Fla.
  • Laguna Niguel, Calif.
  • Lakeland, Fla.
  • Lake Stevens, Wash.
  • Largo, Fla.
  • Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Lavonia, Ga.
  • Livermore, Calif.
  • Louisville, Ky.
  • Madison, Ala.
  • Margate, Fla.
  • Mattoon, Ill.
  • Memphis, Tenn.
  • Miami, Fla.
  • Miami Beach, Fla.
  • Miami Lakes, Fla.
  • Mission, Texas
  • Mount Pleasant, S.C.
  • Myrtle Beach, S.C.
  • Nashville, Tenn.
  • Nicholasville, Ky.
  • North Charleston, S.C.
  • North Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Oakland, Calif.
  • Oakland Park, Fla.
  • Orion Township, Mich.
  • Ormond Beach, Fla.
  • Oxford, Miss.
  • Palm Springs, Calif.
  • Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Plano, Texas
  • Portage, Mich.
  • Port St. Lucie, Fla.
  • Pratt, Kan.
  • Redmond, Wash.
  • Reno, Nev.
  • Rialto, Calif.
  • Richmond, Va.
  • Rochester, Mich.
  • Royalton, Minn.
  • Santa Clarita, Calif.
  • Savage, Minn.
  • Sheboygan, Wis.
  • South Sioux City, Neb.
  • Southport, N.C.
  • Sparks, Nev.
  • Spokane, Wash.
  • St. Charles, Mo.
  • St. Petersburg, Fla.
  • Sunrise, Fla.
  • Sutherlin, Ore.
  • Sweet Home, Ore.
  • Tamarac, Fla.
  • Tempe, Ariz.
  • Topeka, Kan.
  • Tracy, Calif.
  • Treasure Island, Fla.
  • Tucson, Ariz.
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Waterford, Calif.
  • Webster, Fla.
  • Wylie, Texas

About Mars Petcare   
Part of Mars, Incorporated, a family-owned business with more than a century of history making diverse products and offering services for people and the pets people love, the 85,000 Associates across 50+ countries in Mars Petcare are dedicated to one purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS. With 85 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 Petcare Science Institute 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 an international network of over 2,000 pet hospitals and diagnostic services including BANFIELD™, BLUEPEARL™, VCA™, LinnaeusAniCura and Antech. 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. We’re also dedicated to providing a safe and fun place for dogs to stay and socialize at over 200 Camp Bow Wow® doggy day care and boarding facilities. 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.

[1] Best Friends Animal Society

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