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Melton Mowbray hosts community dog walk, as research says pets bring communities together

Pets help bring communities together, according to a new international study conducted by University of Western Australia in collaboration with the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, part of Mars Petcare.

Researchers surveyed over 2,500 pet and non-pet owners across the world and found that pet owners feel more strongly tied to their communities and more trusting and helpful of each other.

Lucy Ray/PA Wire

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.

"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[1] estimated that pet ownership in the UK reduces the use of the NHS to the value of £2.45 billion per year. Indeed, research has shown that pets benefit us in a variety of ways, from decreasing the likelihood of minor illness to reducing loneliness. The availability of parks and open spaces suitable for dog walking is essential for pet well-being, and for people to fully experience the benefits of pet ownership."

Melton Mowbray's mission

In a bid to become the UK's No1 pet-friendly town, Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire has brought the science to life with a huge community dog walk in partnership with BorrowMyDoggy at Melton Country Park.

Lucy Ray/PA Wire

The town aims to be recognised by the Dog Friendly Awards as a pet friendly town and is encouraging residents and visitors to vote. Melton Borough Council is working with local business Mars Petcare to unveil a range of pet-friendly initiatives that will focus 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 furry friends in the best way.

Mayor Councillor Tejpal Baines of Melton Borough Council 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 encourage everyone to vote for Melton Mowbray!"

Melton Lord Mayor Cllr Tejpal Bains and Labrador Poppy celebrate the opening of a new dog activity trail in Melton Country Park in Leicestershire. Lucy Ray/PA Wire

Rikke Rosenlund, founder of BorrowMyDoggy concurred and added, "BorrowMyDoggy exists to connect people and dogs locally so it’s very much our aim to create local doggy communities across the whole of the UK and Ireland. We ask members when they sign up what their reasons are for doing so and one of the top three reasons they give is that they want to become part of a local doggy community. Our members share a love and respect for dogs and their welfare and it is this common value that has driven them to sign up to BorrowMyDoggy and it is what brings them together both on and offline."

To see all the towns competing for the prestigious title and plan your next dog-friendly outing, go here.