Mars Petcare, Downtown Franklin partnership increases puppy love
Check out downtown Franklin sidewalks or any of Williamson’s busy dog parks on a Saturday afternoon, and the importance of man’s furry friends is clear: People here love their pets. Thanks to a new public/private initiative, everyone can enjoy them even more.
In summer 2017, Mars Petcare, the pet nutrition and health giant, is partnering with the Downtown Franklin Association to pilot an initiative that may well become the model for a nationwide project. Long dedicated to “A Better World for Pets,” Mars is rolling out BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™, a five-year program that aims to “create enough places for every dog and cat to live, visit and play by supporting shelters, homes, businesses and parks.” As part of that plan, it will work with Franklin businesses to encourage greater pet friendliness.
”One pillar of our BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program is asking ‘How do we start to talk to cities, retailers, other places about pets?’ If I want to meet my friends for a glass of wine and be able to sit out there with my dog, for example, then how do we show a restaurant that pets are good for business?” says Jam Stewart, director of corporate communications for Mars Petcare. “In Franklin, we’ll be looking at 16 downtown blocks along Main Street and beyond, piloting a Pets Welcome project.”
The program will provide retailers with free educational materials, Pets Welcome signage, a code of conduct for participating pets and more. Businesses will keep track of their experiences with the program, and their data will be gathered in the fall and studied, with an eye toward expanding the project after the end of the year.
“Our goal is to roll this out nationwide,” Stewart says. “We want other cities to access the information.”
Mars’ Middle Tennessee involvement goes deep. The company’s headquarters has been in Franklin for 11 years, and during that time the company has been widely committed to pets and pet owners, encouraging their own employees to bring their pets to work, sponsoring adoption events, and fund-raising for pet charities.
In Nashville, Mars is partnering with the city, Mayor Megan Barry, the Nashville Civic Design Center and the Pet Community Center to work on pet-friendly infrastructure design, vaccination, spay and neutering programs for community cats, and a city-wide animal welfare program. The company’s efforts to make BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™, are based on studying the increasing urbanization of daily life, for families and especially for younger people.
“You start marrying up what you’re doing with the societal things that are happening with pets, and interesting things evolve,” Stewart says. “People want to live in more urban areas, and they also have pets. Millennnials, for example, are waiting longer to have children but they do have pets, and more and more pets are coming into the city.”
Pets are a $60 billion business in the United States, and local businesses, small and large, are benefiting from that surge of interest in the furry, feathered and four-footed. Williamson is served by dozens of pet-oriented businesses (see below). Brentwood-based Tractor Supply Company, which always has been heavily invested in pet supplies and pet owners, has expanded its involvement through its PetSense stores. The chain, which has two local stores, carries pet supplies, has cats for adoption every day, and hosts frequent dog adoptions on weekends.
“Since our inception in 2005 we have now saved over 55,000 animal lives through our adoption efforts and partnerships,” says Steve Neibergall, Petsense president.
Pet-friendly communities are perceived by residents as more welcoming and livable, too. Forty percent of pet owners say they have made friends through their pets. But becoming a pet-friendly city is more than just a feel-good strategy, Stewart says. It is also a tool for smart development, as pet owners consider places to live and work.
“Think about what bikes mean, how bike programs and trails changed cities,” she says. “Prioritizing something can mean a lot to a community. You can’t argue with the social capital pets bring to a city.”
Resources for pets and their humans are many in Williamson, from grooming and boarding services to adoption and emergency medical care. Here is a partial list of what makes Williamson a welcoming place for pets.
Freedom Run Dog Park, Franklin; Nolensville Dog Park, Nolensville; Barkwood Dog Park at Tower Park, Brentwood; K-9 Korral, Harlinsdale Farms, Franklin; Maggie’s Bark Park, Franklin; The Bark Park, Spring Hill
Bring your pet for outdoor dining at Puckett’s, Puckett’s Boat House, Mellow Mushroom, Corner Pub, Bunganut Pig, Blue Coast Burrito, Marco’s Pizza, McCreary’s Irish Pub, the Tin Roof, Sonic DriveiIns, and Nolensville Feed Mill.
Many local hotels representing chains welcome pets, as do some B&Bs. You should check with the individual property, but some of note are LaQuinta, Aloft, Quality Inns and Suites, Day Inn, Extended Stay America, Ramada Limited, Hyatt Place, Residence Inn, Holiday Inn and Deerfield Inn. Some properties charge a pet fee, some do not.
Williamson County Animal Center, Franklin; Happy Tales Humane, Franklin; Critter Calvary Rescue, Franklin; Snooty Giggles, Thompson Station
Petsmart, PetSense and Petco; many independent vets and kennels offer grooming, as does Aussie Pet Mobile, Brentwood
Several of the larger chain stores offer classes and training, as do independent trainers, such as Greymont Kennel and Training Academy.
Vets and Animal Hospitals
Animalia Health and Wellness; Pet Vet, Grassland; Banfield Pet Hospital; White Oak Animal Hospital, Fairview; Berry Farms Animal Hospital; Goose Creek Animal Hospital; Battleground Hospital for Animals; Clovercroft Veterinary Hospital; Beauchamp Animal Hospital; Brentwood Veterinary Clinic; Williamson County Animal Hospital; Franklin Road Animal Hospital; Carothers Parkway Vet Clinic; South Franklin Animal Hospital; Animal Care Center of Brentwood; Caring Hands, Franklin; Fairview Animal Clinic; Nolensville Veterinary Hospital; Natchez Trace Veterinary Services, Franklin; and Blue Pearl Veterinary Services, Brentwood
Happy reTales, Brentwood; Keke’s Dog Bakery and Boutique, Brentwood; Three Dog Bakery, Cool Springs; PetSense, Franklin and Fairview; Petco; PetSmart; Pet Supermarkets; Nashville Pet Products; Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming, Franklin (Westhaven); The Pawfect Puppy, Franklin; Hometown Pets Franklin; Paw Pals Franklin; Tractor Supply Co.; Nashville Holistic Pet, Franklin; Nashville Pet Products, Spring Hill
My Second Home Pet Resort and The Farm at Natchez Trace, Franklin; Dogwood Hollow, Arrington; Walkio, Brentwood