She was the first dog I had the pleasure of adopting in my adult life — she was and still is my world. When Maggie came to us she was a stray, so the vet was unsure about her vaccination status and decided to give her a rabies shot just in case. Maggie had a horribly adverse reaction. She ran a high temperature, lost her appetite, and became so disoriented that she ran through not one but two of our neighbors’ screen doors. The vet’s office tried to console us that we had done the right thing — but Maggie knew better, and that’s not where it ended.
With the shot incident in the back of my mind, I became more observant of Maggie. I noticed that even though we fed her premium food, she would boycott several meals each week. I kept telling her I knew best and that she needed to eat her food, but the truth is that Maggie knew what was best. What I was feeding her didn’t meet her needs and she was trying to tell me.
One day I stepped back and looked at the bigger picture. After some research, I discovered that most of the popular pet food companies are involved in far more then manufacturing and selling pet food. They are divisions of much bigger corporations that primarily produce other things besides pet food. What I was feeding Maggie was not only an afterthought for these companies, it was also a way for them to maximize profit by using the waste from their other manufacturing.
I realized that while millions of dollars were being spent on advertising and promoting these products, very little was being spent on developing products that were healthy for our pets. These companies are not marketing to the user. They are marketing to you, the owner, yet you are not the one consuming the product. How many cats fill out a survey about their canned food, or the chemicals and dyes in their treats? How many dogs call up and ask how a biscuit can be left in a drawer for years and still look exactly the same? The FDA’s standards are far less strict on pet food products, which fully allows manufacturers to focus on image instead of nutrition and quality.
My husband had the idea of a pet bakery and boutique and, after paying attention to Maggie, I said, “why stop there?” We knew we wanted to take it further but we weren’t sure where to begin. It was then that I saw a seminar on pet nutrition offered by one of our local holistic vets. By the time I left the seminar I felt that it would kill Maggie if I didn’t change my ways.
The only area of our pets’ lives that owners really have control over is nutrition. So that’s where we began, and in 1998 Treats Unleashed was born. We try to educate the consumer to make informed decisions about their pet’s wellness. After all, we saw amazing changes in Maggie with just an upgrade in her nutrition. She actually started to eat every meal. Who would’ve thought that she knew better than we did about what was good for her? I am more than a believer now — Maggie and I regularly visit a holistic vet where she gets acupuncture, homeopathic remediess, and Chinese herbs. I definitely treat her better than myself, but she deserves it. If it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t be here to help so many other people and their pets make the transition to a better quality of life. (Maggie’s photo by Karen Murphy)