Twenty-Five Cities Achieve First-Ever Certification For Pet-Friendliness

BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ Recognizes Communities across North America for Welcoming Pets

FRANKLIN, Tenn., July 9, 2019 — Pets in 25 cities throughout North America are barking and meowing with approval today as their hometowns were included in the inaugural list of BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ certified cities. The certification honors the work that has been done to create a friendly environment for two- and four-legged citizens and the commitment from each of these cities to continue improving their pet-friendly programs and policies.

Mars Petcare and experts from the Civic Design Center created the first-of-its-kind certification, which celebrates cities where people and pets can thrive together, as an extension of the Mars Petcare BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program. The program works with local governments, businesses and non-profits to provide resources, tools and grants that help communities make pets more welcome.

“On behalf of Mars Petcare, I want to thank and congratulate the 25 cities that have prioritized people and pets in their communities,” said Mark Johnson, President of Mars Petcare North America. “From helping people live healthier lives to creating social connections, pets can truly transform our communities. These certified cities are helping to make a more pet-friendly world and we hope that many more cities will join us in this commitment.”

The following cities share the honor of being the first to achieve the new BETTER CITIES FOR PETS certification:

  • Bloomington, Ind.
  • Calumet City, Ill.
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Fort Wayne, Ind.
  • Franklin, Tenn.
  • Hallandale Beach, Fla.
  • Henderson, Nev.
  • Laguna Niguel, Calif.
  • Meaford, Ont., Canada
  • Memphis, Tenn.
  • Miami Lakes, Fla.
  • Miami, Fla.
  • Nashville, Tenn.
  • Oakland, Calif.
  • Plano, Texas
  • Port St. Lucie, Fla.
  • Reno, Nev.
  • Rochester, Mich.
  • Royalton, Minn.
  • Santa Clarita, Calif.
  • Southport, N.C.
  • St. Petersburg, Fla.
  • Topeka, Kan.
  • Tucson, Ariz.

Tails are Wagging for Pet-Friendly Businesses

The BETTER CITIES FOR PETS certified cities have all done incredible work to welcome people and pets. Here are some great examples of programs started in certified cities:

  • St. Petersburg, Fla., winner of a 2019 grant from BETTER CITIES FOR PETS and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, created “St. Pete PAWS,” a program modeled after BETTER CITIES FOR PETS and dedicated to pet-friendly parks, businesses and homes, as well as warm and welcoming shelters. The program provides the community with educational materials and pet-friendly resources such as an events calendar and an online pet-friendly business locator map. Through St. Pete PAWS, the city also recently launched the Mayor’s Pet-Friendly business certification program to further encourage pet-friendliness.
  • Franklin, Tenn., home to Mars Petcare North America headquarters, piloted the first ever BETTER CITIES FOR PETS “Pets Welcome” program in partnership with the Downtown Franklin Association to encourage businesses to welcome pets in their stores and on their patios. Since the pilot, nearly 100 businesses have opened their doors to people and their pets in the downtown area alone. In addition, the city frequently hosts pet-friendly community events, adoption events and proactively shares responsible pet ownership materials.

Pet Parents Weigh In: Why Cities are Better with Pets

As more pets become integral members of households, families recognize the impact pets have on their emotional, physical and social wellbeing. A recent survey of U.S. pet owners revealed:

  • 82 percent of pet owners say having a pet positively impacts their lives.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) feel more relaxed and happy when they are with a pet.
  • 67 percent are more likely to spend money at businesses that welcome pets, while 61 percent are more likely to stay longer at a bar, café or restaurant if they can have their pet with them.
  • Almost half (44 percent) of pet parents said they would accept reduced pay in exchange for allowing pets in the workplace.
Pet-Friendly Cities infographic

Through an online assessment at, participating cities were asked to share data on existing and future pet-friendly features within three sections: city profile, survey and priorities. Cities were then evaluated based on 12 traits of pet-friendly cities across the areas of businesses, parks, shelters and homes. Cities that met the certification criteria and committed to continuing their progress in creating a welcoming community for people and pets received the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS certification. All cities that completed the assessment received a personalized report outlining their strengths and areas of opportunity, along with resources and tools from the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS program to help them on their pet-friendly journey.

For more information on the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS program and the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS certification, along with the full list of certified cities, 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 businessand 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 OnePoll Survey
Mars Petcare issued a national consumer survey to better understand pet owner perceptions of pet-friendliness in their communities and understand challenges they have faced surrounding the promotion of pet-friendly housing, businesses, shelters and parks. The general population online and mobile survey was conducted by OnePoll and collected data from 2,000 adult dog and/or cat pet owners across the U.S. from June 4-5, 2019.

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