There’s a lot to bark and meow about these 25 cities throughout North America because they were included in the inaugural list of BETTER CITY FOR PETS certified cities by Mars Petcare. The certification honors the work that has been done to create a friendly environment for two- and four-legged citizens and the commitment from each of these cities to continue improving their pet-friendly programs and policies.
Mars Petcare and experts from the Civic Design Center created the first-of-its-kind certification, which celebrates cities where people and pets can thrive together, as an extension of the Mars Petcare BETTER CITIES FOR PETS program. The program works with local governments, businesses and non-profits to provide resources, tools and grants that help communities make pets more welcome.
"On behalf of Mars Petcare, I want to thank and congratulate the 25 cities that have prioritized people and pets in their communities," said Mark Johnson, president of Mars Petcare North America. "From helping people live healthier lives to creating social connections, pets can truly transform our communities. These certified cities are helping to make a more pet-friendly world and we hope that many more cities will join us in this commitment."
Through an online assessment at BetterCitiesForPets.com, participating cities were asked to share data on existing and future pet-friendly features within three sections: city profile, survey and priorities. Cities were then evaluated based on 12 traits of pet-friendly cities across the areas of businesses, parks, shelters and homes. Cities that met the certification criteria and committed to continuing their progress in creating a welcoming community for people and pets received the BETTER CITY FOR PETS certification. All cities that completed the assessment received a personalized report outlining their strengths and areas of opportunity, along with resources and tools from the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS program to help them on their pet-friendly journey.
The following cities share the honor of being the first to achieve the new BETTER CITY FOR PETS certification:
- Bloomington, Indiana
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Calumet City, Illinois
- Oakland, California
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Plano, Texas
- Dallas, Texas
- Port St. Lucie, Florida
- Fort Wayne, Indiana
- Reno, Nevada
- Franklin, Tennessee
- Rochester, Michigan
- Hallandale Beach, Florida
- Royalton, Minnesota
- Henderson, Nevada
- Santa Clarita, California
- Laguna Niguel, California
- Southport, North Carolina
- Meaford, Ont., Canada
- St. Petersburg, Florida
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Topeka, Kansas
- Miami Lakes, Florida
- Tucson, Arizona
- Miami, Florida
The BETTER CITY FOR PETS certified cities have all done incredible work to welcome people and pets. Here are some great examples of programs started in certified cities:
- St. Petersburg, Florida, winner of a 2019 grant from BETTER CITIES FOR PETS and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, created "St. Pete PAWS," a program modeled after BETTER CITIES FOR PETS and dedicated to pet-friendly parks, businesses and homes, as well as warm and welcoming shelters. The program provides the community with educational materials and pet-friendly resources such as an events calendar and an online pet-friendly business locator map. Through St. Pete PAWS, the city also recently launched the Mayor's Pet-Friendly business certification program to further encourage pet-friendliness.
- Franklin, Tennessee, home to Mars Petcare North America headquarters, piloted the first ever BETTER CITIES FOR PETS "Pets Welcome" program in partnership with the Downtown Franklin Association to encourage businesses to welcome pets in their stores and on their patios. Since the pilot, nearly 100 businesses have opened their doors to people and their pets in the downtown area alone. In addition, the city frequently hosts pet-friendly community events, adoption events and proactively shares responsible pet ownership materials.
As more pets become integral members of households, families recognize the impact pets have on their emotional, physical and social well-being. A recent survey of U.S. pet owners revealed:
- 82% of pet owners say having a pet positively impacts their lives
- Nearly two-thirds (64%) feel more relaxed and happy when they are with a pet
- 67% are more likely to spend money at businesses that welcome pets, while 61% are more likely to stay longer at a bar, café or restaurant if they can have their pet with them
- Almost half (44%) of pet parents said they would accept reduced pay in exchange for allowing pets in the workplace.