Pets make life happier and healthier, and their presence alone is proven to make communities safer. And, they’re family – pets are now in more than 84 million households.
Yet despite the value that pets add to our lives, they aren’t always welcome in public places, meaning people and pets miss out on the many benefits of time together.
That’s why the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Mars Petcare teamed up to help make cities more pet friendly as part of the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program.
Connecting with U.S. Mayors
In 2017, Mars Petcare surveyed mayors across the country to gauge the state of pet-friendliness in U.S. cities, specifically seeking to understand current perceptions, trends, amenities and existing resources for managing animal welfare and quality of life for people with pets.
“Pets can’t speak for themselves, so it’s up to people and communities to advocate for them,” said Mark Johnson, Mars Petcare North America President. “In partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, we’re bringing together the public and private sectors to work together to advocate for more pet-friendly policies. We surveyed mayors around the country to help to refine our model for a pet-friendly city, ultimately creating communities with fewer pets in shelters, more pet-friendly places and happier, healthier lives for both people and pets.”
This research led to insights on strengths and opportunities, particularly in terms of the pet-friendliness of shelters, parks, homes and businesses. Read the survey report here:
Helping Mayors Make Cities Pet Friendly
To help address these findings, Mars Petcare created a how-to guide for cities interested in implementing more pet-friendly policies and programs. It laid the groundwork for what became the Playbook for Pet Friendly Cities in 2018. See the original how-to guide here:
A Grant Program for Cities in 2018
Also in 2018, to support cities working to be pet friendly, Mars Petcare and the U.S. Conference of Mayors announced the first BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ grants. The recipient cities were Fort Worth, Texas; Richmond, Virginia and Hallandale Beach, Florida.
These cities are using the grants to support a new therapy animal program, provide pet wellness resources for residents in under-served communities, and offer other pet-friendly programming.
In addition, Mars Petcare announced that given the high interest in the new grants and the impressive number of year one applications, it would make a $1 million NUTRO™ food donation to support all the applicant cities on their journey to be more pet friendly.
In 2019, additional grants were awarded. This time, the recipient cities were Key West, Florida; Dayton, Ohio and St. Petersburg, Florida.