A campaign has been launched to make Melton the UK’s number one pet-friendly town in a bid to make residents happier and healthier and improve footfall for businesses.
Melton Council has joined forces with town-based Mars Petcare to set up a series of initiatives aimed at showing how pets can improve the quality of life of adults and children across the community.
A database is being compiled to highlight pet-friendly businesses in the town, dogs will be taken into care homes to give therapeutic aid to residents and patients and pets will also visit schools to educated children about being responsible pet owners.
Campaign organisers then plan to enter the prestigious annual national Be Dog Friendly competition for top pet-friendly town, organised by the Kennel Club.
After launching the project, Melton Mayor, Councillor David Wright, said: “The residents of Melton are already fond of their pets but the news that they can help improve our health and the local economy means that becoming more pet friendly is an initiative we certainly endorse.
“The council welcomes this opportunity to work with Mars Petcare – a business that has been at the heart of our community for nearly 70 years – to become the number one pet friendly town in the UK.”
The Mayor said he also believes the campaign will help tackle Melton’s growing issue with dog fouling by educating residents and promoting more responsible pet ownership values.
Scientists at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, the renowned research centre for Mars Petcare, say they can show that promoting pet-friendly initiatives in Melton can have huge benefits for residents.
Dr Sandra McCune, scientific leader for human-animal interaction at the Waltham centre, said: “A recent survey showed that pet ownership in the UK reduces the use of the NHS by around £2.45 billion so this campaign can have a real impact on saving money in health services in Melton.
“When people take dogs into a school classroom children have been found to pay more attention to what the teacher is saying.
“And just stroking an animal can really help dementia-sufferers - people have been known to talk for the first time in weeks after visit from an animal.”
Dr McCune added: “The day-to- day benefits that pets can bring to our lives are becoming more widely understood but there is work to be done to raise awareness of just how beneficial pets can be, particularly for older adults and for children.
“We hope that by combining our research with amazing initiatives like this one by Mars Petcare and Melton Council, we will encourage places like schools, workplaces and other public spaces to be more welcoming to pets, because of the proven impact they bring to these environments.”
The following activites will be the centrepiece of the campaign:
l The Melton PAW-Some Scheme - designed to help pet owners find pet-friendly businesses in the town by encouraging them to display official stickers.
l Using pets as therapy – taking pets to Melton to meet people living in residential care and nursing homes. training will be given to volunteer helpers.
l A Pet Ambassador programme - educating schoolchildren on being responsible pet owners so the next generation know how to keeps animals happy and healty.
l Pet activity trails at Melton Country Park - increasing awareness of these new resources for the healthy benefit of owners and their pets.
l Melton Mowbray Pet School – pet owners expert will get access to advice on how to treat their animals via evening seminars.
Damian Guha, managing director of Mars Petcare UK, which has had a presence in Melton since 1951, said: “We’ve always known that pets make our lives better so we’re thrilled to be helping Melton Mowbray become a place where pets can thrive and making residents happier and healthier as a result.”
To mark the start of the campaign, dog owners are invited to bring their pets to a special event at Melton Country Park on Thursday (April 27), from 12 noon until 1pm.
There will be a group walk around the park and tea, coffee and cake will be served.
The first of a series of pet seminars will also be held on Thursday, between 5pm and 6pm, giving advice on caring for new puppies and kittens.
The session, in Melton Council’s Ferneley Room, will be hosted by Sara Kelly, from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition.