Pets are now part of more than 84 million U.S. households, yet barriers to pet ownership are still prevalent in communities across the country, ranging from financial and green space constraints, to a lack of understanding about the benefits of creating and supporting pet-friendly environments. To address these challenges, The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), the official nonpartisan organization for cities of 30,000 or more, and Mars Petcare, a world leader in pet nutrition and pet care products, announced the launch of the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Grant Program, a nationwide initiative designed to help cities promote, support and expand pet-friendly programs and policies in communities across the country. Cities can now apply for a total of $100,000 in grants in 2018 to help create pet-friendly communities.
“We know both intuitively and through research that pets enhance not just our physical and emotional health, but even the property values in our communities,” said Tom Cochran, USCM’s CEO and executive director. “But with so many competing needs, providing resources to mayors to help their cities become more pet-friendly isn’t typically a front-burner issue. That’s why we’re proud of our partnership with Mars Petcare, because through the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS initiative we’ll be doing important work that hasn’t really been done before in this way. And we’ll be helping everyone, from residents to business owners to lawmakers, realize the many ways in which pets enrich our lives and our neighborhoods.”
In January 2017, USCM and Mars Petcare launched a nationwide city survey to determine what resources and support a city would need to make their community more pet-friendly. The survey found that cities across the country, from outer-ring suburbs to urban cores, need more resources than they can currently provide to create optimal pet-friendly environments. This includes food, facility upgrades and training for shelters; improved outdoor public amenities for dogs and other pets; support for local pet adoption, micro chipping, and spay/neuter programs; and education for business owners on the benefits of establishing pet-friendly policies and amenities in retail, restaurant, and other business settings. All of these are needs, which a BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Grant can be used to address.
“Pets are important members of so many families across the county, and it’s imperative that our communities support the needs of pets and their owners,” said Jam Stewart, vice president, corporate affairs at Mars Petcare. “Funding this grant program is our way of helping communities take actionable steps to become more pet-friendly and implement one or more of the initiatives modeled in our Playbook for Pet-Friendly Cities. We encourage everyone to join the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS movement and are proud to partner with USCM to support three cities in their journey to become more pet-friendly.”
To view the complete Eligibility Guidelines and to apply, visit www.usmayors.org/pets. The application deadline is April 27, 2018.