Mission added an accolade to its resumé when it was dubbed one of the Better Cities for Pets — a program created by Mars Petcare to help cities become more pet friendly. The city unveiled a new bone-shaped emblem at Bannworth Dog Park during a “paw-ty” on Monday. Community members and their pets attended to celebrate the certification.
Better Cities for Pets is a national recognition and only about 42 cities in the country hold the distinction. Mission is one of six cities in Texas to earn the title and it stands alongside Edinburg as the only two cities in the Valley with the certification. The other pet-friendly Texas towns include Houston, Arlington, Dallas and Plano.
Cities earn the title by implementing policies and initiatives such as rescue and adoption programs for homeless pets, animal-friendly businesses and pet-friendly parks and public spaces.
Currently, Mission has 25 parks where pets are welcome on a leash and two dog parks where dogs can roam freely. City Manager Randy Perez said in the future the city would like to designate more green spaces where owners can let their pets loose.
Mission also partners with a number of non-profit rescue groups that assist in finding homes for unhoused pets and getting them adopted or rehomed. On the city website is a list of pets that are available for rescue and adoption. Perez said it was these efforts specifically that helped Mission earn the Better Cities for Pets certification.
At the designation celebration, the city manager challenged businesses to make Mission even more pet friendly by allowing pets inside their establishments.
“We believe pets are great for business,” Perez said. “People want their pets with them as they run errands. Make your place of business somewhere they want to go. With their pet along, people may stay longer and even spend more.”
Additionally, the pet-friendly certification comes with grant opportunities. Mars Petcare offers grants to help cities create and expand programs that provide even more welcoming spaces. For 2021, Mars Petcare will award five $20,000 grants to cities. Each awarded city will also receive up to $2,000 in consultation services from Civic Design Center to help with project initiations or expansions. Grant winners will be announced later in the fall.
In the past, Petco has awarded Mission with grants that the city used to organize free spay, neuter and microchipping clinics. Perez said those are the types of programs the city wants to continue offering.
At the unveiling ceremony, Mayor Armano O’Caña said the city makes every effort to create real change for animals in need.
“After all, our pets make our city happier, healthier and a more exciting place to live,” the mayor said. “When you make pets part of your city, in your planning, in your policies, in your everyday life like we have in Mission, you can make it a better situation for all of our constituents.”