In fact, a survey of U.S. Mayors found that 100% said pets can have a positive impact on people's mental and physical health, and 82% agreed that providing pet-friendly amenities can have a positive economic impact in a community.
The Better Cities For Pets™ program of Mars Petcare is working to guide the way. Since 2017, the program has offered a model for pet-friendly cities, tools, best practices and other support.
Both programs and policy affect the pet-friendliness of a city. This includes traits like having pet-friendly housing options for all families and pets, offering green space where people and pets can get exercise for good health, and businesses that make pets welcome so it’s easy to be out with a pet.
In 2019, the Better Cities For Pets™ program introduced a first-of-its-kind city certification program, created with help from Civic Design Center, to recognize and encourage cities that make pet-friendliness a priority. Certification is awarded based on a detailed online assessment of policies and programs related to local shelters, homes, parks and businesses.
For example, St. Petersburg, Florida, which was certified in 2019, created St. Pete PAWS, a program modeled after Better Cities For Pets™ that provides the community with educational materials and pet-friendly resources such as an events calendar and an online pet-friendly business locator map.
Franklin, Tennessee, piloted the first-ever Better Cities For Pets™ “Pets Welcome” program, encouraging local businesses to welcome pets in stores and on restaurant patios. Since the pilot, nearly 100 businesses have opened their doors to people and their pets in the downtown area alone.
Whether certified or not, all cities that complete the Better Cities For Pets™ assessment receive a personalized report outlining their strengths and areas of opportunity, along with resources and tools from the program.
More than 25 cities have successfully completed the process and earned certification, spanning from Gresham, Oregon, to Meaford, Ontario, to Key West, Florida. What they all share is a commitment to supporting pets and pet owners.
Won’t it be a wonderful world when every city makes it easy to have a great life with a pet? Cities interested in getting certified or increasing their pet-friendliness can start here.
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