By A.J. DUGGER III
Better Cities For Pets kicked off their “Pets Welcome” community celebration and pilot program on Friday June 16 in Downtown Franklin.
The free event will wrap up on Saturday, June 17. During this celebration, more than 80 local businesses are welcoming Franklin residents to bring their pets into their offices.
Better Cities For Pets is a Mars Petcare program that assesses the positive impact that pets can have on local businesses. The program’s goal is to help cities become more pet-friendly.
“We’re testing and learning starting today until the end of the year. We’re doing research and working with the City of Franklin to see if this is program sustainable,” Jam Stewart, Director of Corporate Communications for Mars Petcare said.
Mark Johnson, president of Mars Petcare North America, and Franklin Mayor Ken Moore gave brief speeches before a ribbon-cutting that was met with wild cheers from Franklin pet-owners.
“I’m just proud of Mars Petcare. They’re bringing the culture with them to the business world where animals are accepted. This brings in more consumers and more clients. It’s just good business,” said Rep Glen Casada, R-Thompson Station.
“Mars Petcare is a great family oriented company with a great culture,” said Rep Sam Whitson, R-Franklin. “We are blessed to have them here at Williamson County. Our leaders here in Franklin are also a blessing. It’s a blessing that this happened. I wish I could have brought my dog, but it’s a little too hot. I have a 12 year-old golden retriever.”
The celebration offers plenty of activities including a fundraiser to walk dogs, a “yappy hour” where pets can enter certain restaurants, and an adoption drive hosted by the Williamson County Animal Shelter.
Kevin Nelligan of Chicago adopted a white labrador retriever mix and named her Maggie.
“We don’t know what she’s mixed with, but we named her Maggie. She was too cute to pass up,” Nelligan said. All eyes were on Maggie as she chowed down at Pieology (She ate dog food, not pizza.)
As predicted, there were a few minor barking fits, but pet-owners maintained control of their pets.
“We’re talking not just about pets, but also about pet ownership, and we see a lot of responsible pet owners here today,” said Stewart.
The pet owners did not have to worry much because most of the pups in attendance were overly excited to meet one another.
“Our dog Lindsey almost lost her mind today,” Franklin resident, Elizabeth Woods said.
Woods and her sister, Melanie, brought their golden retriever to the event and had a great time. Lindsey’s tail would not stop wagging.
“There are so many dogs and people here. She doesn’t know who to sniff next,” Woods said. “If she could talk, I bet she’d tell us and Franklin ‘thank you.’ I bet all the animals here would.”