Mars Petcare Launches Initiative to Create More Pet-Friendly Communities
With increased urbanization and family dynamics changing, Mars Petcare is aiming to break down barriers to welcoming pets in more places. As such, Mars Petcare, in partnership with the City of Franklin, Tenn., business and nonprofit leaders, launched a community celebration and pilot program meant to welcome pets in more places. The pilot is part of Mars Petcare's first-of-its-kind initiative, Better Cities For Pets, which aims to create more places for every dog and cat to live, visit and play in cities across the nation.
"Pets can't speak for themselves, so it's up to people and communities to advocate for them and the many ways they make our lives better," said Mark Johnson, president of Mars Petcare North America. "The Better Cities For Pets initiative was created to bring together people, governments, and organizations to represent the voice of pets and create change toward more pet-friendly cities—and our intent is for other cities to adopt the model we're creating, taking this effort nationwide."
Through the pilot, more than 80 local businesses will open their doors to pets to evaluate the positive impact of pets on local economies. In partnership with the Downtown Franklin Association, City of Franklin, Nashville Civic Design Center, Williamson County Animal Center and the Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mars Petcare is launching this pilot in Franklin, Tenn., home to Mars Petcare's U.S. headquarters, using this market to create the model for other cities across the nation to adopt in the future. Participating businesses will receive a comprehensive toolkit and guides to implement pet-friendly policies, and will collect feedback over the next few months to gather best practices to offer to other cities in the future.
"Pets have always been a passion of mine, and I'm thrilled that Franklin was selected to pilot test the 'Pets Welcome' program with our local businesses," said Mayor Ken Moore of Franklin, Tenn. "As a growing, community-driven city, Franklin is the perfect setting to test out the positive impact of pets in more places and offers the ideal foundation to explore the impact of trends we are seeing across the country."
Studies show that pets help people in so many ways, from reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and increasing a sense of community. But despite these benefits, communities are still faced with a mix of barriers that make it difficult to create pet-friendly environments. As more people move into urban areas, and more young adults are choosing to have pets over children, it's clear that the role pets play in people's daily lives continues to evolve, said Mar Petcare officials.
To better understand the impact of these barriers and opportunities, Mars Petcare issued a survey with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, asking Mayors about the current landscape of pet-friendliness in their cities, and the results validate these trends around pet ownership.
The results show that the power of pets is no secret—100 percent of mayors agree pets can have a positive impact on people's mental and physical health, and 82 percent of mayors agree that providing pet friendly amenities can have an overall positive economic impact on their community. But the need for support still exists, with 66 percent of mayors not having, or aren't aware of, pet-friendly policies for public spaces such as restaurants and stores. Mars will unveil the full survey results at the US Conference of Mayors' Summer Meeting on June 24, helping to inform how the Better Cities For Pets model rolls out to cities across the country as the program evolves.
An important part of the initiative is implementing more pet-friendly policies in partnership with cities themselves. Mars Petcare is collaborating with state lawmakers to honor pets, including the first official Pets Matter Month, a joint resolution passed by the Tennessee General Assembly that recognizes the many ways pets make life better. This, along with other progress being made at the state and local level, is an important first step in making policy changes in cities that currently have strong barriers to pet ownership.
Mars Petcare has a history of improving pets lives and Better Cities For Pets extends this vision by building the right partnerships, working with businesses and engaging local governments to better understand how to improve communities for pets by supporting homes, shelters, businesses and parks. A few ways Mars and its partners are making progress on this front are:
- Giving pets more places to play by sponsoring dog parks across the country, and hosting volunteer events to improve public parks by creating trails and installing hydration and relief stations.
- Encouraging more families to add a pet to their family by supporting adoption events, as well as refreshing and rebuilding play areas at shelters, ensuring that the time pets do spend at shelters is warm and welcoming.
- Ensuring pets are welcomed in the community by providing responsible pet ownership education to pet owners and non-pet owners alike, from safety to health and etiquette policies for pets.
- To help other nonprofits, local governments and businesses looking to make their communities more welcoming to pets, Mars Petcare U.S. has created a dedicated website to offer downloadable tools and information.