Franklin throws out the welcome bone as the pilot city for Mars Petcare’s Better Cities for Pets Program
Stroll the picturesque streets of downtown Franklin and you are sure to be met with smiling faces and wagging tails. Scattered throughout the historic district are colorful fresh water bowls in front of businesses, treats at many shops, window clings indicating which stores or patio seating areas welcome fur babies and waste bag stations.
In June 2017, Franklin threw out the welcome bone, so to speak, when it became the pilot city for the launch of Mars Petcare‘s first-of-its-kind initiative, Better Cities for Pets, with the goal of making the community a top pet-friendly location. The company is a manufacturer of pet food and provider of animal care services, and its U.S. headquarters is located here.
“Franklin is our hometown, so it is important to us that this program be part of the community where we live and work,â€ says Katie Evans, external affairs manager, Mars Pet Nutrition US. “It really creates a better quality of life for people and pets.”
A survey by the Downtown Franklin Association of the area’s merchants participating in the program showed two-thirds received positive feedback from their customers and 40% felt there was an increase in tourists with an interest in pet-friendly policies.
Joni Cole, owner of two restaurants and bars, Grays on Main and O’ Be Joyful, was part of the coordinated community effort between Franklin, the Downtown Franklin Association and the Williamson County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau that helped plan the city’s program.
“I am thrilled downtown Franklin is pet friendly. It increases our overall hospitality and Main Street experience. When we started, we were shooting for around 45 businesses to participate. We opened the program with 98 businesses, and it is still going strong to this day,â€ Cole says.
Franklin Mayor Ken Moore says he’s heard similar feedback, adding that he himself enjoys occasionally bringing along his two dogs – Mike, a German Shepherd, and a mixed-breed rescue named Jack – to City Hall.
“I cannot tell you how many people I run into that tell me they love bringing their pets with them to downtown, to shop, sit outside and have a meal or drink or just enjoy our scenery,â€ Moore says.
Pups are not only welcome at many local businesses but also at some of the city’s special events, such as the annual Main Street Festival in April, where there’s a “Bark Loungeâ€ with shaded resting areas, hydration stations, pet portraits, information on pet adoption and more.