Common Barriers to Pet-Friendly Communities

Despite the well-documented benefits pets can bring to our communities, many aren’t nearly as pet-friendly as they could be. The good news is that, more communities are embracing pets and the benefits they have to offer.

If you are looking for ways to make your community pet-friendlier, review these common obstacles to get a better sense of where you can best focus your efforts. Every community is unique; you may find some of these challenges easier to address in yours than others.

Lack of Pet Amenities

Attempting to care for a pet in a community that doesn’t provide a sufficient number of pet relief areas can be a huge challenge. This is especially true for those who live in apartment complexes or condominiums with limited outdoor space.

A lack of hydration stations or other pet-friendly sources of fresh water can also pose a problem, especially when exercising pets or on hot days.

Nowhere to Go

In a 2017 survey conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Mars Petcare, 30% of mayors said their residents did not have enough pet-friendly green spaces for their pets.


mayors who reported a lack of pet-friendly green spaces

Lack of Parks & Green Spaces

Without enough parks and other green spaces, it may be difficult to find a place for your pet to play, socialize, and to get the physical activity they need. This is especially true for larger dogs.

Even if parks and green spaces are plentiful, a lack of hydration stations or policies that prohibit pets outright may prevent pet owners from taking advantage of them.

Lack of Pet-Friendly Transportation

Public transportation can be immensely valuable for those attempting to travel quickly and efficiently; benefits that can carry over to pets as well.

Without access to pet-friendly transportation, pet owners may need to arrange for alternative transportation methods when getting their pets to and from grooming and veterinary services as well as pet-friendly parks.

Issues of transportation are compounded when it comes to traveling between communities. Without pet-friendly transportation and pet-friendly lodging, traveling outside of your community can be unnecessarily difficult for pets and their owners.

Lack of Pet-Friendly Businesses

More and more pet owners are opting to take their pets with them during their day-to-day activities instead of leaving their pets at home. In communities without a sufficient number of pet-friendly businesses, pet owners are likely to run into difficulties when trying to run errands with their pets.

Lack of Expectations

Many communities have different rules and ordinances that apply to pets when they are in public. These may range from rules about where a pet can go to how a pet must be restrained and how their waste must be handled. A lack of awareness about these expectations can get pets — and their owners — in trouble.

By actively engaging in public education about its pet-related laws, cities can help to ensure that all owners know what is expected of them and their pets.

The Cost of Caring

A 2017 survey conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Mars Petcare found that only 37% of cities had programs in place to underwrite costs associated with pet adoptions.


cities with programs designed to help offset pet adoption costs

Lack of Social Safety Nets

Misfortune can strike anyone at any time. The loss of a job or the loss of a home can have catastrophic consequences for pets.

When hit with unexpected financial challenges, many pet owners choose to surrender their pets to the shelter system in the hope that someone else can give them the care they need. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Pet-friendly communities prepare for such events and have programs in place to support people and their pets when disaster strikes. Whether through free food provided by a shelter or food bank or low-cost training and medical care, pet-friendly cities make sure both pets and their owners are looked after.

Want to Make Your City Pet-Friendlier?

Check out our guide on advocating for a pet-friendly community. Find out what you can do to make your city more welcoming to pets and owners alike.

View the Guide

Mars Petcare's Better Cities for Pets™ program features a comprehensive set of materials and resources designed to help you develop practical strategies for improving the pet-friendliness of your community.

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