Helping Pets Live the Dream in Pet-Friendly Cities | Pet Friendly Works

Pet Friendly Works helps pets live the dream in pet-friendly cities

Animal Innovations Show - Episode 78 - Pet Friendly Works

Helping Pets Live the Dream in Pet-Friendly Cities | Pet Friendly Works

If you’re the mayor of a city or the head of an organization that wants to become pet-friendly, why not work with Pet Friendly Works?

Founded by Karen Bartoszek, the consulting agency assists organizations, businesses, and cities in designing and implementing programs that help you become pet-friendly.

According to Karen, who also serves as the President of Pet Friendly Works,

“We want to help you create a program that is uniquely yours, that looks at the strengths that you have in your city and builds upon those. And we step back and look at the vision, look at the mission statement, and then we work with them to create a team.”

About Pet Friendly Works

Pet Friendly Works website

A consulting, team-building, and program development firm, Pet Friendly Works sets the bar on what it means to be pet-friendly. Its roster of clientele includes businesses, cities that are already pet-friendly, and even organizations that seek to become pet-friendly.

Although the company officially started in 2016, Karen has had the agency’s vision in the works since 1996. It was after she got her first dog that she dreamed of operating a business that’s centered around pets and travel.

“It was all powered by my love of pets and the belief that there was so much more that businesses could be doing to welcome pets. And again, there were economic benefits for those businesses. And then the benefit that people could spend more time with the pets that they love.”

Despite its rebranding from its original name “Pets Living the Dream”, Pet Friendly Works’ goal continues to be the same: making pet-friendliness a part of every organization’s culture for years to come.

about pet friendly works karen bertoszek

As for what criteria they use to classify a city as pet-friendly, Karen replied,

“It really is (about) getting a group of really passionate animal lovers together and saying, ‘Hey, how can we use this? How can we use this framework to help build out and make things better for the people that live here and the pets that love them and vice versa?’

Benefits of Working With Pet Friendly Works

The beauty of creating pet-friendly programs in cities and organizations is that it makes a powerful difference for pets, people, and the community.

Plus, it has positive economic impacts, too.

For instance, with pet-friendly neighborhoods come people who may decide to stay longer in the community (e.g., a period of 48 months instead of just 18 months in a non-pet-friendly neighborhood).

This may mean more spending for the products and services offered by small businesses that are already pet-friendly or are operating in pet-friendly locations.

“When all those things come together and are built into the fabric of the community, it changes the culture. More pets find loving homes, and people are more connected. It’s fun and spreads the unconditional love that pets provide. What could be better than that?,”

Karen said.

pet friendly founder karen bertoszek.png

This is especially true when you consider the fact that most pet parents today consider their fur babies as part of the family and want to spend the rest of their lives together with their animals.

In fact, Pet Friendly Works was able to build a strong public-private partnership for St. Pete, one of the clients they’ve worked with, thanks to this.

Karen commented,

“It really gets people engaged. They feel so passionate about this and come up with some really creative ideas that can help build out the initiative within the city. And, again, these programs and initiatives are unique to that city…and their strengths that they have in that community.”

With St. Pete, for example, one of the initiatives they are currently working on is the development of a program for pet-friendly and restriction-free housing.

After all, pets have become many people’s constant companions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, not allowing pets in residential and commercial buildings may, instead, have a negative impact on the community.

When asked what they hoped to achieve in the future, Karen had this to share:

“When pet-friendliness becomes a part of a community and/or business, more pets find loving homes, and people gain an unconditional love like no other. That is the greatest impact we can hope to have.”



Learn more about Pet Friendly Works!

Check out their website at

Have suggestions for who we should interview next?

Send us a message at [email protected]!

Karen: Hi. I’m Karen Bartoszek, and you are tuned in to The Animal Innovations Show.

Chris: Tell us who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals.

Karen: I am the President and founder of Pet Friendly Works. We are a consulting, and team building, and program development firm. And our clients include businesses, cities that are already pet-friendly and also those that want to become pet-friendly.

Chris: Interesting.

Okay. So, you’re truly a consulting agency, right? So, if I’m the Mayor of Denver and I want my city to become pet friendly, I call you.

Karen: Exactly.

I started in 2016, but the dream had been in the works since 1996. I really date myself on that one. But that was when I got my first dog. It was my first dog on my own.

I wanted to do a business around pets and travel. However, the challenge in 1996 was pet-friendly was not what it is today. I was working for a large corporation but I kept researching and watching what was happening in the pet space.

And then during my last assignment with the company, I was traveling just a ton, and I started to see more and more pets.

And it was all powered by my love of pets and the belief that there was so much more that businesses could be doing to welcome pets. And again, there were economic benefits for those businesses.

Chris: Nice.

So, now how do you find your clients? I mean, I know you worked a lot with the city in Florida, right?

Karen: That’s a lot of word of mouth and getting out there in the community. I first got started with working with the city of St. Pete through the local SPCA, and they were actively involved with the city.

The city had just gotten engaged with a program from Mars Pet Care which I can delve into a little bit more. 

But it’s ‘The Better Cities for Pets’ program through Mars Pet Care, that he had just signed up the CEO for the SPCA through my networking with the chamber, reached out to me and said, “Hey, have you heard of this?”

And I said, “No, but I’m willing to let me dig into it.” And she said: Please do, and please contact me, because I’d really like to talk with you about how we can work together.

And it really gets people engaged, and they feel so passionate about this, and come up with some really creative ideas that can help build out the initiative within the city.

Chris: Now, I’m guessing you probably know more about the research and stuff than I do, but, I mean—

Don’t pet-friendly businesses and pet-friendly cities just perform better?

Karen: There’s a lot of surveys and studies that have been done that people will stay longer. They’ll spend more within businesses and communities that are pet-friendly.

Chris: It’s not just a city anymore. You’re creating a group of people that are connected with a bond with their animals, and you feel like you’re in a safer community, which leads to all sorts of benefits that I can imagine— a city or city council with thinking about—

How do we transition our city for the future? This should be something they’d be looking at.

Karen: Pets are family.

Pets are— maybe they’re pre-family. They may be their family. When you’ve got that, they’re making decisions on where they want to live.

They’re moving to cities that are pet-friendly because they know they want to spend life together with their pets.

Chris: Right, do you stay with them with that city, all the way through the implementation of it?

Karen: I will transition and help them manage the project through. But my ultimate objective too is: I want to help them.

I want to help them create a program that is uniquely theirs.

While I can, and I do stay with projects. I also want to make sure that the city is in a position that—should I leave, that the program does continue and thrives.

Chris: So, where do you see this going? Are you starting to see more and more cities and businesses really embracing this?

I’m curious—like, has COVID affected things? What’s changing?

Karen: Things actually— my business was just at that point, where I was starting to get more active and getting engaged. And then the world shut down.

But what I did see, as we all saw is shelters, emptied. People brought pets into their houses, into their homes, and pets became their constant companions.

They became their therapist. And I’ve seen a tremendous shift where you can do searches on just pet-friendly workplaces.

Chris: Wow. So, now where do you see this going for you? Where does your business head here? In the next three or five years?

Karen: My goal is really to start expanding, working with other cities, helping them to realize the same type of benefits that the cities that I work with today are—and really help promote this, be able to connect with different organizations and grow their businesses.

Chris: Yeah, very cool. So, Karen, where can people find you? What’s the website, how do they get a hold of you?

Karen: Okay. So, the website is PETFRIENDLYWORKS.COM. I can throw out my cell phone as well is 727.643.6809.

Chris: I’m so excited that you’re able to come on today. And as we wrap up, I’ll remind our viewers and listeners, that if you’ve got a passion like Karen does and it’s helping people and helping animals, we want to know about it.

So, come on the show and talk to us. Just go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW and fill out the form and we’ll get you on.

So, Karen, thank you again. I’m really excited you came on, and I’m excited to see where you’re going to take this.

Karen: Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

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