The city of Santa Monica has qualified for a “Better City For Pets” certification that’s awarded after an assessment of pet-friendliness in a city’s shelters, homes, parks and businesses. It demonstrates to both residents and visitors that the city is taking steps to welcome pets and help keep people and their favorite furry friends together.

The evaluation and eventual certification comes from Mars Petcare, the Virginia-based multinational manufacturer of confectionery, pet food, a provider of animal care services and part of the Mars Incorporated brand.

“I found out about the opportunity to apply for Better Cities for Pets certification at the meeting of the US Conference of Mayors. In reviewing the criteria for certification, I thought Santa Monica had a very good chance of qualifying,” Mayor Gleam Davis said.

According to Davis, there are only about 100 cities currently certified throughout the whole United States. “I applied on behalf of the City in the spring and was thrilled when Santa Monica was certified. Not only does this certification reflect the tremendous work done by our Animal Shelter and our great public amenities for pets, it reaffirms the crucial role pets play in the daily lives of Santa Monicans,” she said.

The website states that there are 12 traits for a pet-friendly city, including, community cat programs that humanely address overpopulation, support programs to help keep pets in homes during tough times, pets needs are included in the city like park and green space planning and that workplaces know and support the benefits of pets at work.

As a result of this recognition, it means the city can also apply for a grant to help fund a “pet enrichment and education” space at the Santa Monica Animal Shelter.

Elizabeth Noble, Chair, Santa Monica Animal Shelter Foundation, explains that the space, when it’s finished, will be a warm and welcoming place for visitors and pets offering education to better prepare adopters for their new pet and the pet for its new family.

“The space will be mostly turf and there will be enriching activities for the dogs which will greatly benefit their wellbeing and help them from becoming anxious or stressed while they are at the shelter,” Noble says.

However, while the grant could potentially help the shelter with an additional $20,000, the space is already being designed and built and it’s a costly undertaking. Just the turf and installation alone is exceeding $30,000 Noble says, and that’s before drainage, electrical, concrete and so on. “When you factor all that in, we’re looking at quite a large amount,” she says.

“[The space] will enable us to start a program so that we can have more enriching activities for the pets and also education, both pre and post adoption. So when someone comes to meet an animal, they’ll have an inviting and safe area where they can interact with their potential new pet,” Noble says.

“Pets that have been in a shelter environment can be very stressed and there is a period of adjustment that is longer than many adopters expect. Dogs especially need training and in this new space we hope to offer potential adopters the chance to work with the dog they wish to adopt with a trainer before they bring the dog home.”

And the good news doesn’t end there. Starting today, August 4, the adoption fees at the Santa Monica Animal Shelter will be reduced to just $20 for cats, dogs, kittens, rabbits and hamsters to help the animals at the shelter find their forever homes.

The Santa Monica Animal Shelter still has so many wonderful animals looking for their forever homes and some have been there for far longer than they should have to be. But, even if you can’t adopt any more, or just don’t have room in your apartment that’s already filled with countless cute cats and kittens, you can still help the animals by making a donation or shopping on the Chewy wishlist. Some of the rescued animals at the Shelter need costly veterinary care, so until some super-wealthy philanthropist donates a $million or two, they still need our help.

To adopt a cat, kitten or any of the adorable available animals, you can call the Santa Monica Animal Shelter at: (310) 458-8595 to schedule an appointment. They’re open Tues-Sat between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.