Community News

Better Cities Grant Awarded for New Pet Safety Net Program

Media Contacts: 

Amina Chaudhry, FKSPCA Outreach Coordinator:

Alyson Crean, City of Key West Public Information Officer:

Key West Awarded 2021 BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ Grant for a Pet Safety Net Program

Key West focuses on keeping people and their pets together by partnering with the Florida Keys SPCA to develop a program to help pet owners find and keep pet-friendly housing

Key West, Florida Jan.14, 2022 – In December, the city of Key West and the Florida Keys SPCA was awarded a 2021 BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ grant for its Pet Safety Net Program which was chosen based on its focus on keeping people and pets together. The announcement comes on the heels of the release of Mars Petcare’s “Keeping People and Pets Together” Report, which found that 90 percent of pet parents want to continue to have the increased time with their pets as the pandemic subsides.[1]

“This year, the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS grant program focused on keeping people and their pets together, knowing the unprecedented challenges facing families throughout the pandemic,” said Jam Stewart, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Mars Petcare North America. “Our new research shows that the financial and health stressors affecting many people may force some pet parents to make the difficult decision to surrender their pets. As part of our global ambition to end pet homelessness, it’s our goal to keep as many people together with their pets as possible, which this year’s grant recipients are actively helping to address.”

Mars Petcare’s BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program awarded six grants in partnership with the Civic Design Center to continue making progress toward creating pet-friendly communities. Awards of up to $20,000 were given across four categories including shelters, homes, businesses and/or parks, and were judged based on how each city’s program helps keep pet owners and their pets together.

The Florida Keys SPCA’s Pet Safety Net Program aims to help Key West residents find and keep pet-friendly housing. Grant funding will be used to pay pet deposits and fees for income-qualified pet-owners. It will also provide rabies vaccines and county licenses to income-qualified people’s pets so that they will be in compliance with their rental properties’ pet policies; this will allow renters with pets to keep their existing housing or to qualify for new housing. There will also be a resource hub on the FKSPCA website to assist pet-owners in their search for pet-friendly housing, and to encourage property owners to rent to tenants with pets. Among the resources offered will be a Pet Rental Property Map that will feature all the pet-friendly rental properties throughout Key West.

“Key West has earned a reputation of being pet friendly with restaurants, attractions, and activities that welcome pets,” said Key West City Manager Patti McLauchlin. “Now, in partnership with the Florida Keys SPCA, the City is proud to support the endeavor to keep people and pets together.”

In 2019, the city of Key West was also recognized by the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program as a certified pet-friendly city, because of its programs and policies demonstrating the community’s commitment to making pets feel welcome.

About the Grants

Since 2018, Mars Petcare has offered grants through the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program to help cities create or expand programs that provide more welcoming places for people and pets.  With the grants, the company is helping cities across the United States in their efforts to help pets in need and keep people and their pets together.

Mars Petcare’s BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program encourages and helps cities to be pet-friendly so more people can enjoy the benefits of a life with pets, from companionship to exercise to social connections. The program was created by Mars Petcare, the world’s leading pet nutrition and health care business, in partnership with experts in city planning and key government stakeholders. It includes a playbook for cities with free online resources, a city certification program, best practice research, policy advocacy and grants.

To view the full Mars Petcare “Keeping Pets and People Together” Report, please visit To learn more about the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Program and its grant program, please visit


About the Florida Keys SPCA

The Florida Keys SPCA is the largest animal welfare organization in the Florida Keys serving the Lower and Middle Keys from MM0-MM70 with two locations in Key West and Marathon. The Florida Keys SPCA is dedicated to promoting the humane treatment of all animals through compassionate care, adoption, education, population control, and humane law enforcement.

About Mars Petcare   
Part of Mars, Incorporated, a family-owned business with more than a century of history making diverse products and offering services for people and the pets people love, the 85,000 Associates across 50+ countries in Mars Petcare are dedicated to one purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS. With 85 years of experience, our portfolio of almost 50 brands serves the health and nutrition needs of the world’s pets – including brands PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®ROYAL CANIN®NUTRO™, GREENIES™, SHEBA®, CESAR®, 
™ and EUKANUBA™ as well as the WALTHAM Petcare Science Institute which has advanced research in the nutrition and health of pets for over 50 years. Mars Petcare is also a leading veterinary health provider through an international network of over 2,000 pet hospitals and diagnostic services including BANFIELD™, BLUEPEARL™, VCA™, Linnaeus, 
 and Antech. We’re also active in innovation and technology for pets, with WISDOM PANEL™ genetic health screening and DNA testing for dogs, the WHISTLE™ GPS dog tracker, and LEAP VENTURE STUDIO accelerator and COMPANION FUND™ programs that drive innovation and disruption in the pet care industry. As a family business and guided by our principles, we are privileged with the flexibility to fight for what we believe in – and we choose to fight for our Purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS.  

[1] KRC Research conducted online surveys of 1,003 U.S. pet parents from July 28 to August 8, 2021.