Pets have been trying out a new dog activity trail created in Melton Country Park as part of the town’s quest to become the nation’s most pet-friendly town.
Dozens of owners brought their dogs along to the park to experience the new facility, which has been provided by local business Mars Petcare and Melton Council, in a special community dog walk event.
The two organisations have teamed up in a series of initiatives to encourage the use of pets to bring the community closer together.
Mayor of Melton, Councillor Tejpal Bains, said: “At Melton Borough Council, we are always looking for ways to further our sustainable, prosperous and vibrant community. “This year is all about pets in Melton and this dog walk showed how great pets really are for forging community spirit.
“Our big aim is to win the dog friendly award as the most welcoming town for dogs in 2017, so I would encourage everyone to vote for Melton Mowbray.”
A directory of Melton businesses which welcome pets is being compiled as part of the pet-friendly campaign.
Dogs are also being taken into schools to educate the next generation of owners on how to own them responsibly and they are also going into care homes because of the therapeutic help they give to elderly residents and people with disabilities.
A series of free expert talks are being held, in addition, to help Melton residents care for their pets.
Mars Petcare’s Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition has just conducted an international study, in collaboration with the University of Western Australia, which established that pets strengthen neighbourhood ties.
Researchers surveyed over 2,500 pet and non-pet owners across the world and found that pet owners felt more strongly tied to their communities and were more helpful, friendly and trusting of each other.
Dr Sandra McCune, scientific Leader for human-animal interaction at the Waltham centre said: “We’ve always known that pets help us to meet other people, break the ice and are often a topic of conversation over the garden fence.
“This study proves the added benefits that pet owners feel more part of a community and are better neighbours.”
She said it validated Melton’s quest to become the UK’s most pet-friendly town, by entering a contest organised by The Kennel Club.
Dr McCune added: “This study adds further support to calls for establishing ‘pet-friendly’ cities, towns and accommodation – quite simply because pets are good for our emotional and physical wellbeing.
“A recent study estimated that pet ownership in the UK reduces the use of the NHS to the value of £2.45 billion per year.
“Research has shown that pets benefit us in a variety of ways, from decreasing the likelihood of minor illness to reducing loneliness.”
Go online to www.dogfriendly.co.uk/be-dog-friendly/locations/search/type/town-city/ to vote for Melton as the UK’s most pet friendly town.