Amanda Broughton and Michele (‘Chele) Hobbs live less than a mile from Findlay Market. Hobbs worked in construction sales until the market tanked; Broughton has a marketing degree and formerly ran a nightclub. They also own several cats and dogs, including Jackson, a beautiful blue-eyed Australian Shepherd mix who suffers from severe food allergies.
Why do we care (besides the fact that animals are awesome and the economy is depressing)? Because Broughton and Hobbs used their personal pet experiences and unexpected obstacles as a catalyst to start the Findlay Market-based custom pet food retailer, Pet Wants.
“Pet Wants isunique,not just to the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky market, but unique in the entire U.S.,” Broughton says of the urban feed store’s trademarked concept, which includes purchasing and storing made-to-order pet food in the store’s own walk-in refrigerator.
“Our food is all-natural, complete and balanced, made locally here in Ohio in small batches,” Broughton says.“Sincewe make it only once a month, it’s likely the freshest food your pet has ever had — unless you make it yourself. We also add vital, all-natural chelated vitamins and minerals to our formula, making our food a super premium alternative to national brands.”
And why would you need an alternative to national brands? Let’s remember back to the great pet food recall of 2007 when co-owners of Las Vegas-based Chemnutra Inc. pled guilty to charges of selling adulterated and misbranded pet food tainted with the chemical melamine, commonly used to make plastics, cleaning agents, inks and glues. Granular melamine, which resembles white granular wheat gluten, was added to the pet food to make it appear as though the products had higher levels of protein.
Cyanuric acid, a chemical used to disinfect pool water, was also present in the food. The two chemicals combined caused kidney toxicity and renal failure and resulted in the death of more than 8,000 animals, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Even “natural” pet food brands like Blue Buffalo, whose slogan is “Superior Nutrition. Ultimate Protection,” have contamination issues. In October 2010 the company announced a voluntary recall of some types of dry food due to potentially toxic levels of vitamin D, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Chances are your dog hasn’t dropped dead from eating any Pedigree-type products (mine haven’t, but they also eat each other’s poop), but Broughton encourages you to take a look at your store-bought food’s ingredients list. Words like corn, wheat, soy and “animal by-product” (beaks, eyes, guts, etc.) are naughty words in the world of nourishing your pets; Pet Wants never uses them in any of their formulas.
“I mean, why the heck would you use corn in a pet food?” Broughton says. “Cats and dogs don’t eat corn. Corn is one of the known triggers for allergies in dogs.”
They also assure customers that none of their products are ever affected by pet food recall concerns, including their several types of dog food: chicken and brown rice; lamb and brown rice; salmon and brown rice; lean dog chicken and brown rice; puppy formula; and no-grain formula for dogs with severe grain allergies.
So: No beaks. No allergies. No deadly chemicals. And their focus is not only on the health of your pet; it’s also on the health of the community.
“Our main product, Pet Wants food, is made in Ohio, then delivered by R L Carriers or Dayton Freight Lines — both headquartered in Ohio, all paying Ohio sales, income, excise, fuel, unemployment and god-knows-whatever tax. In other words, insurance for job growth, and everyone knows the importance of that,” Broughton says.
And this love of local is also why they love being located in Findlay Market.
“Findlay Market is an idealenvironmentfor the concept behind Pet Wants. The Findlay Market shopper is not your average shopper. They arenutritionsavvy and local minded. ... Although (the Corporation for Findlay Market)initiallywasn’ttoo excited about the thought of dogs at the market,” Broughton says, laughing.
As a customer, you don’t need to bring your dog to the market — or even yourself for that matter — because Pet Wants offers a free food delivery service, an idea that originated after Broughton and Hobbs spent so much of their time locating and then repeatedly purchasing allergy-free food for Jackson.
“There is now a choice to feed your cat or dog with high-quality, no corn, no wheat, no soy, no animal by-product foods without sacrificing your time or making special trips to do so,” Broughton says.“Once a client decides our food works well for them and their pets, Pet Wants delivers the amount they need to their home or office. And since delivery is free, the cost ends up about the same price you would pay for a national brand.
“For our clients this means they no longer have to worry about making an extra trip to a pet store to get food that they have no idea how old it is,” she adds. “Imagine how many thousands of tons of dog or cat food sold nationally has to be made to in order to supply thewholecountry? Where is all this stuff stored and how many trucks and warehouses has it been in before it finally gets to your pet’s bowl? Our customer is likely the kind of pet owner who has already questioned this, but what other options have there been?”
If you need any more incentive to try Pet Wants’ fresh, high-quality products, they also make their own pet jerky using choice top round or eye of round from Findlay’s Eckerlin Meats, located across the breezeway from their store. Broughton says, “The little secret is that many of our clients (including us), actually eat the jerky too! It’s that good!”
Pet Wants is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Go to www.petwants.com for more information or to sign up for free food delivery within the I-275 belt.