mars

Mars Petcare and Franklin are partnering in a pilot program to make cities and towns more pet friendly.

As a kickoff, the city, company and local businesses will hold two days of events next Friday and Saturday, the 16th and 17th in downtown Franklin.

It all begins at 2pm on Friday the 16th in the Public Square with a presentation and ribbon cutting by Mayor Ken Moore and Mark Johnson, President of Mars Petcare North America, and events will continue until 6 p.m.

At the Friday events, people will be able to:

-Support homeless pets from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at an adoption drive, hosted by Williamson County Animal Center. There will also be a Dog Walks for Donation activity where participants can walk adoptable dogs and for every 10 minutes walked, $100 will be donated to WCAC by Mars Petcare in support of their capital campaign.

-Receive care and safety tips for pets in the home from behavior and nutrition experts from Mars Petcare. To commemorate the day, you can have your picture taken with your pets and get a free printable photo to take home.

-Visit the businesses participating in the pilot program, pick up some pet-themed giveaways and partake in “yappy hour” events at participating restaurants from 4:00-6:00 p.m.

-Experience an innovative dog park where cities can create more park space in urban areas by turning unused concrete space into pet-friendly green space. The park features innovative materials, designs and feedback boards to collect public input–even a hydration station for thirsty pups!

On Saturday, June 17, the fun will continue from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Saturday will focus on:

-Support homeless pets at an adoption drive, hosted by Williamson County Animal Center.

-Receive care and safety tips for pets in the home from behavior and nutrition experts from Mars Petcare and pick up some pet-themed giveaways

-Visit the businesses participating in the pilot program

-Experience an innovative dog park where cities can create more park space in urban areas by turning unused concrete space into pet-friendly green space. The park features innovative materials, designs and feedback boards to collect public input–even a hydration station for thirsty pups.

Background

Mars, which has a Franklin headquarters, plans to build a new headquarters in Cool Springs and an Innovation facility in Thompson Station, decided to experiment right here where it lives. At the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting in March, representatives from Mars and its local partners outlined their plans.

“Last year Mars reached out to the city about trying this. Franklin is already doing a great job but can do even better,” Milissa Reierson, communications director for the city, said.

Angel May, who is spearheading the project for Mars, began the presentation.

“There are four pillars, it is about business, about making sure a community does not have a shelter full of pets, about making sure that at home there are not barriers for people taking care of their pets and the final thing is about parks and providing more green spaces,” May said.

“We are meeting frequently to move forward, to make this city a model we can take to cities across the country”

It will be a phased approach.

“This is the discovery phase, that will then go into a retailer launch, providing tools for all the retailers, and then a public launch, and then an assessment phase,” May said.

Mars will promote the businesses that sign up for the program, and give them branding and tools.

Ellie Chin, CEO of Visit Franklin, is partnering with the initiative. She said the program could help tourism.

“Visitors like traveling with their pets, and if they know they can bring their pets with them they will stay longer and be happier,” Chin said.

20 local hotels allow dogs already, she said.

“Franklin is a pet-friendly city already, this is nothing new for us,” May said. “The culture is very accepting of pets, but all we are trying to do is formalize and put some story telling behind it, in a way that helps to brand it and identify those businesses that are pet-friendly.”

It is about where you can shop, live and play with your pet, because it is hard to leave your pet at home when you go out, she said.

“The work we are doing is to try to collect the insights that show pets are good for shop-owners.”

The value of the program to the city is increasing connectivity, and harnessing the benefits that integrating pet-friendliness can create.

“The value is that pets help us with our health, they help us in terms of lowering our blood pressure, they help us connect communities,’ May said. “You get to know the pet, you get to know its owner. There is proof that shows that here in Nashville pets are connecting us more than going to church, or more than having children; it is just the makeup of the modern ‘family’ we live in. And cities need to recognize how to accommodate that population. And that is what this program is about.”

The program, which is still being filled in on details, also wants to look at policies the city has that might be good or bad for the program.

“All of this is in the development phase,” May said. “We are thinking through everything, and these are some of the ideas we have. They aren’t set in stone.”

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