A brown cat is sitting on a white chair and they are looking at the camera.


In January 2024, Kitchener was officially certified under the Better Cities for Pets Initiatives from Mars Petcare. Kitchener is the first Canadian city to receive this designation, but not the first community. That goes to Caledon, Ontario.   

The title allows for the city to be more inclusive and accessible for pets and pet owners alike. The pet-friendly designation was a joint effort between the City of Kitchener, the Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo and Stratford Perth and Dog-Friendly K-W.   

It allows Kitchener to be a premiere destination for pet tourism.  Many hotels in the city are dog-friendly, including the Walper Hotel in downtown Kitchener.   

“It draws in folks from all over so last year, we had folks travel in like February and Windsor to visit us. They came for our programming and events in our initiative because they felt welcome and wanted to be a part of our events,” Justine Sparling, Co-Founder and Director of Organization Development and Special Projects, said.   

According to David Fennell, author of Tourism and Animal Ethics, there is a rising trend of pet owners bringing their pets with them on trips as opposed to leaving them behind with a sitter or at a kennel. While the designation helps pet owners in the community, it also adds to the pet tourism market in the region.   

Waterloo Region offers unique opportunities and activities for pets and their owners alike. From dog-friendly patios and community events.  Dog-Friendly KW works with local businesses to promote their pet-friendly environments in Waterloo tourism guides.   

“We run every summer and Willow River Park. That’s a calm, structured environment where folks come in, they practice yoga with their dog. And the intention is really for their dog to hold a day or a down day for the duration of the practice,” Sparling said.   

Mayor Berry emphasized the importance of inclusivity in events and programming, while Director of Community Services, Sarah Williams, inquired about future and initiatives.