This is the second in our blog series Asheville Loves Dogs, in which we highlight some of our neighbors who share our philosophy about dog sentience and compassionate care. These are our favorite dog-friendly places, businesses, and services that make Asheville such a great place to live with a dog!
Our second interview is with Jenna Wilson, owner of Patton Avenue Pet Company. Patton Avenue Pet Company are our neighbors! We have always been big fans of Jenna and her team, and as Patton Avenue Pet Company has grown over the years we have been impressed at the reputation they have built. They see dogs the same way we do: as individual sentient family members. Jenna and Billy, the owners, are also very inclusive and supportive of their staff, including paying living wages. They carry the best products available, going around the country to trade shows to bring back the very best on the market to Asheville. They have harder-to-find items like toys that hold up to aggressive chewers, and a good selection of products like quality foods and CBD oil.
Jenna graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Animal Science, and has always been passionate about animals and specifically companion animals. She had work experience in both retail and animal nutrition and care, so once she realized that Asheville was where she wanted to live, she combined her backgrounds to open a store that she thought Asheville really needed. Here are excerpts from our interview:
What values do you have as a company? How do those values apply in your day-to-day operations?
We list five core values for our business: Professionalism, Playfulness, Compassion, Passion, and Integrity. At the end of the day, we need to run a successful, profitable business in order to continue existing, but we don't compromise our values or integrity by selling products we don't believe in or that don't have scientific backing. We would never sell something that we wouldn't use with our own pets. We take nutrition seriously, but we still have fun at work and in our lives with our animals. And at the end of the day, compassion for all pets and their people is our number one priority.
What is one thing you find important to educate dog owners about?
Pets are expensive: you can spend money on proper nutrition, or you can spend money down the line on veterinary bills (or, sadly, lose your pets early.) Just like with humans, proper nutrition can help prevent a huge slew of medical issues down the line. Somehow people balk at spending an extra $10 or $20 on a bag of food, but have no problem paying hundreds of dollars trying to fix the issues that poor nutrition causes. Cancer, diabetes, kidney issues, weight problems, hip and joint issues: these are just some of the many conditions that can be prevented by giving pets proper nutrition in the first place.
What is one thing you wish all dog owners knew?
I think the biggest misunderstanding about pet food is that dry food cleans teeth! That's crazy. We wouldn't eat cookies or biscotti to clean our teeth! Dry food is the least healthy type of food, though there are better and worse foods in that category. Both dogs and cats benefit from moisture in their diets, particularly fresh meats. Also, the idea that giving different types of food is bad because it causes loose stool -- that is also crazy. Who among us doesn't have loose stool sometimes? The more variety of food and moisture you can give a dog, the better.
Why do you still support grain-free feeding, and what is your opinion about the recent FDA study?
First of all, there was no actual "study." The FDA's report was based on a non-peer reviewed op-ed, and in the two years since, no additional evidence to a threat has been provided. The occurrence of DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a canine heart disease) is .001% amongst grain-free fed dogs, which were self-reported after the FDA specifically asked for grain-free fed dogs to report issues. This makes it not only a very insignificant number, but also impossible to compare to the overall dog population.
In other markets where there are similar pet food trends, such as Europe, there are no issues with DCM. There are much higher risks to dogs for issues such as diabetes and obesity that are directly linked to high-glycemic foods which contain corn and grains, but you don't see outrage over other ailments that occur at far higher rates.
So essentially, there is no actual scientific evidence of any threat. The confusion and scare-tactics being employed by some veterinarians, with so few facts to support them, are causing so many pet parents to significantly degrade their pets' nutrition. While there is nothing inherently wrong with a small amount of grains in a diet, many grain-inclusive foods use large amounts to "bulk" up the food with cheap fillers, which many dogs have a hard time digesting.
Not all grain-free foods are good, just as not all grain-inclusive foods are bad, but the idea that grain-free foods are killing dogs only stands to serve pet food companies that are losing market share to healthier foods -- namely Purina, who is behind much of the nonsense that has been spread around in the past few years.
How do you choose the retail products that you offer for sale?
When it comes to food, we have set guidelines for foods that we find appropriate to sell in our stores, and we only sell foods that meet those criteria. These include being by-product, corn, wheat, and soy free, and no artificial colorings or flavorings. We do research on the manufacturer, and don't sell brands owned by huge multinational conglomerates such as Mars or Smuckers. We also try to have a variety of categories, proteins, and bases for our foods. When it comes to supplies, we try to offer a variety of healthy, safe, and durable products that will make pets and their owners happy and make us feel good about selling them!
What do you enjoy most about serving pets and their owners?
When people come in to tell us how a new food or product has changed their pets' lives, it's the best feeling in the world! We love our own pets so much and want them to live happily and healthily for as long as possible, and we want the same for everyone else and their best friends.
For more information:
Check out Patton Avenue Company’s website at: pattonavenuepet.com
Connect on Facebook at Patton Avenue Pet Company.