Press release: Mars Petcare
With an increasing number of pets entering animal shelters and pet adoptions not keeping pace, 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.
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 percent have food banks or animal welfare organizations that distribute pet food for local families in need
- 93 percent report that restaurants in their city welcome pets (on outdoor patios, for example)
- 90 percent include pets in their city emergency/resiliency planning
- 81 percent allow pet ownership without breed restrictions
- 71 percent 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.