Mars Petcare US has unveiled its "Pet-Friendly Communities Initiative" in its hometown in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 

The initiative is designed to foster greater adoption of pet-friendly community policies and promote the benefits of pet ownership and pet adoption in the U.S. Initial programming in Nashville will include free adoption days with three area shelters, a $10,000 donation to the Nashville Parks Foundation and additional donations to 28 rescue shelters in Middle Tennessee.

"Mars Petcare is dedicated to making a better world for pets," said Mark Johnson, president of Mars Petcare North America. "There are countless studies documenting the physical and emotional benefits to pet ownership, particularly on promoting healthy, active lifestyles. We're excited to pilot this initiative in our hometown, and we know Nashville is a great role model for other communities looking to become more pet friendly."

People + pets = all kinds of good

Together with The  Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition – a leading scientific authority in pet nutrition and well-being founded by Mars more than 50 years ago – Mars Petcare has discovered that having a pet isn't just fun, it's actually really good for you. For example:

  • Benefits to pet ownership include reducing the risk of heart disease and stress management, promoting healthy, active lifestyles, offering companionship and facilitating emotional connections.
  • Dogs and other animals can also help children cope with a variety of ailments – depression, emotional disorders and even poor immune function, and can promote social skills.
  • Pet owners are significantly more likely to meet new people in their neighborhoods than non-pet owners, with pets shown to facilitate friendships more often than in children's schools.

Nashville's pet-focused policies

Under Mayor Karl Dean's leadership, Nashville has become a more pet-friendly city by:

  • Opening new dog parks
  • Adding more than 4,500 acres of new parkland, 14 new parks and six park expansions in the past eight years, increasing parkland by 25 percent and increasing greenways by 50 percent, with 40 miles of new trails. Additionally, 21 water fountains have been added across the city, each featuring a dog bowl.
  • Numerous health events – including 100 Miles with the Mayor, Mayor's Challenge 5K and Mayor's Field Day – have welcomed pets so that people can be active with their furry friends. The Mayor invited Metro's Animal Care and Control to participate in these events to increase adoption and to promote responsible pet ownership.

"I am proud of the strides we have made to become a more pet-friendly community," Dean said. "By investing in dog parks, improving the operations of our animal shelter and partnering with nonprofit shelters across the city, we have made Nashville a healthier city for residents and their pets. Thank you Mars for recognizing the commitment by our community to animal welfare. We appreciate your investment in dog parks through the Nashville Parks Foundation and look forward to many of our shelter dogs and cats finding forever homes through your free adoption program."

Clear out the shelters: free adoption days

On September 4 and 5, 2015, Mars Petcare will sponsor up to 300 adoptions at three Pedigree partner shelters – Metro Animal Care and Control (Davidson County), Williamson County Animal Shelter and Nashville Humane Association – in an effort to find all of these pets a forever home.

 Representatives from Banfield Pet Hospital – the largest privately owned veterinary practice in the U.S. – and the American Humane Association's "Red Star Rescue Rig," sponsored by Mars Petcare US, will also be on-site to hand out information, answer questions and provide additional support. The Red Star Rescue Rig is an 82-foot-long truck fully equipped to handle disasters and provide on-the-ground rescue services for animals.