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Melton Mowbray is officially top dog, as this weekend it has been named the most dog friendly town in the UK by the Dog Friendly Awards. Run by Dog Friendly and the Kennel Club, the awards recognise and reward businesses and places that go the extra mile for the benefit of the UK’s 9.4 million dogs and their owners. Melton Mowbray was named the most welcoming town for dogs in a public vote that saw thousands cast their ballot for the town.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said, “We are delighted to present Melton Mowbray with an award for the best dog friendly town in the UK. Dog owners and their pets are a key part of any community and the Leicestershire town has clearly recognised this by going above and beyond for their canine citizens. We hope that other towns will now follow their example and benefit from the many rewards a dog-friendly attitude can bring.”

Melton Mowbray has been working all year on a variety of pet friendly projects, transforming the lives of its residents by bringing pets and people together. The activity was planned in response to a report published in January revealing that pets bring a range of economic, health and social benefits.

Councillor Margaret Glancy, Chair of Town Area Committee of Melton Borough Council said: “Here in Melton Mowbray we’re a town of pet lovers - so to receive the news that we are officially the most dog friendly town in the country is just fantastic. We are already famous for pork pies and stilton cheese, and now we can be famous for being pet friendly too! This has been a community driven campaign from the start and I am very proud of all our local Meltonians who have got behind it.”

Over the course of the campaign, Melton Borough Council has worked with local business Mars Petcare (who have been making pet food in the town for almost 70 years) to unveil a range of pet-friendly initiatives that have focussed on encouraging pet friendly tourism, improving the mental and physical health of the town through pets, showing how pets can build stronger communities and helping pet owners to care for their pets in the best way.

Deri Watkins, Managing Director of Mars Petcare UK said: “Pets make our lives better so we’re thrilled to have helped Melton Mowbray become a place where pets can thrive - making residents happier and healthier as a result. We now want to encourage other communities and towns to do the same and enjoy the positive effects that a campaign like this can have on the local community.”

From community dog walks to advice for owners with a new puppy or kitten, 2017 has been all about pets in Melton with projects including:

  • The Melton PAW-Some Scheme – Helping local pet owners find out which local businesses are pet-friendly - or “PAW-Some”. This scheme has encouraged local businesses to become pet friendly or register that they are already pet friendly so that local pet owners can easily find them. So far Melton Mowbray has seen almost 20 businesses sign up to this scheme and receive the official PAW-print stickers. We also created a new guide that outlines why being pet friendly is good for business as well as a few handy hints and tips on how to go about becoming pet friendly. 
  • Melton Country Park - Melton Country Park has become even more pet friendly with the creation of new exciting activity trail for both pets and owners to enjoy and increase their physical activity. We celebrated the opening in July with the Melton and Surrounding Villages Dog Walking Group and a big community dog walk.
  • The Melton Mowbray Pet School – Giving local pet owners expert advice on how to keep their pets happy and healthy through evening seminars which have focused on topics including how to treat your pet responsibly, vaccinations and neutering along with seasonal pet advice to keep your pet happy and healthy during Halloween, Bonfire Night and the festive season. These seminars have been hosted by various experts at Waltham and Mars Petcare including Dr Sandra McCune, Scientific Leader for Human-Animal Interaction at the WALTHAM Centre.

Sir Alan Duncan is MP for Rutland and Melton and an avid dog lover who has campaigned for pets to be allowed in Parliament and for businesses in general to be more pet friendly. With his beloved dog Noodle he was even the proud winner of Westminster Dog of the Year in 2013.

Sir Alan commented: “Campaigns like the Pet Friendly Towns campaign are such important community led initiatives to help promote the benefits that pets have to our health and society as well as responsible pet ownership. By engaging the community, Melton Borough Council and Mars Petcare have done a fantastic job in bringing to live the pet friendly aspects of this town that already exist. I am delighted by the result and what the town has achieved.”


  1. Pets are good for our health
  • Research shows that pet owners experience a significant reduction in minor health problems versus non-pet owners. [i]
  • A study in 2002 showed that people with a dog or a cat had lower resting heart rates and blood pressure measures at the beginning of an experiment than those without a pet.[1]
  • Plus, 94 per cent of heart patients with a dog or cat survive heart attacks, compared with 72 per cent without a dog or cat.

  • Pet owners are happier
  • Cat owners have fewer bad moods than those who don’t have pets. [ii]
  • Pet ownership is associated with lower levels of depression following spousal bereavement. [iii]

  • Pets help to reduce loneliness – and help us to make friends
  • Reduced levels of loneliness and improved mental functioning are found in older adults when they have contact with dogs. [iv]
  • Pets act as social catalysts providing opportunities for greater social interaction in communities. [v]

  • Pets are great for kids
  • In the classroom, pets help children to pay greater attention to their teachers. [vi] 
  • Children are less likely to suffer allergies, asthma, or eczema if they are exposed to pets at an early age. [vii]
  • Children get more satisfaction from relationships with their pets than with their brothers or sisters[2] and growing up with a pet can bring social, emotional and educational benefit to children and adolescents.[3]

  • Pets keep us fit
  • Dog ownership is associated with greater physical activity and recreational walking for owners.[4]

  • Pets can help the most vulnerable in society
  • Animal-based therapy is becoming popular in residential care homes because stroking a pet has been shown to decrease agitated behaviours and increase social interaction in patients with dementia.[5]
  • Work done by assistance dogs provides enhanced independent living as well as limiting risks and injury and offering greater opportunity to take part in events.[6]

  • Pets are great for business
  • Those who own dogs are almost twice as likely to regularly visit local shops and businesses than those who do not own a dog. If these businesses allow dogs inside this is likely to increase further.[7]
  • 72% of dog-owners said they would holiday in the UK more frequently if there were more options for their dog. [8]
  • Dog owners spend 16% more on eating out and drinking in pubs than cat or non-pet owners. [9]

Join the conversation on Twitter #PetsForGood

[1] Allen K, Blascovich J, Mendes WB.Cardiovascular reactivity and the presence of pets, friends, and spouses: the truth about cats and dogs. Psychosom Med. 2002 Sep-Oct;64(5):727-39.

[2] Cassels M, White N, Gee N, Hughes C, 2017. One of the family? Measuring children’s relationships with pets and siblings. J Appl Develop Psychol. Vol 49, 12-20

[3] Purewal, R.,  Christley, R., Kordas, K., Joinson, C., Meints, K., Gee, N., Westgarth, C., 2017. Companion Animals and Child/Adolescent Development: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(3), 234

[4] Published by CABI, Companion Animal Economics – Report Literature Review

[5] ‘Seven brilliant benefits of owning a dog’, Royal Canin

[6] Published by CABI, Companion Animal Economics – Report Literature Review

[7] Published by CABI, Companion Animal Economics – Report Literature Review

[8] Kennel Club Holidaying With Your Dog survey 2015

[9] Kennel Club Open for Dogs Survey 2011

[i] Serpell, 2011

[ii] Turner et. al 2003

[iii] Garrity et. Al, 1989

[iv] Banks & Banks, 2002; Kawamura et. Al, 2007

[v] Wood et al. 2015

[vi] Kotrschal et al. 2003; Gee et al. 2007, 2009, 2010

[vii] Hesselmar 1989