Two years ago, Josie Richardson was volunteering at the Kent County Animal Shelter (KCAS), training animals for rehoming and rewarding them with treats.
Like many shelters, however, KCAS is government-run, government-funded and relies on donated items to maintain daily operations—which, Richardson notes, doesn't always ensure the best nutrition. So, she took the animals' nourishment into her own hands and kitchen: She started making treats.
And hasn't stopped.
Today, Richardson is the owner of Love Bites Treatery,
"My lifelong mission is to see to it that every pet, everywhere, has access to proper nutrition," said Richardson.
Every Love Bites Treatery product is made with veterinarian-formulated Healthy Powder, a nutrient-rich vitamin blend formulated for both cats and dogs that has been shown to improve skin and coat, strengthen bones and joints, and boost energy levels and general well-being.
All the ingredients are organic, fresh and locally sourced when available.
And instead of baking the treats, Richardson dehydrates them to preserve nutrients and allow for a long shelf life without the use of traditional preservatives.
Then, for the pièce de résistance, she cuts out the treats for sale, and the "cut-offs" get donated.
For every bag of treats sold, one bag is donated to a local shelter.
Love Bites Treatery's products for cats and dogs come in a variety of flavors including apple and oats, chicken, veggie and more. Does your furry counterpart have bad breath? There's a treat for that: Vitamint Strips.
"It's so many late nights, early mornings, mid-batch store runs and burning your arm on the oven door for the fourth time," Richardson said. "But it's also so many puppy kisses, happy customers, community events, and walking into a shelter with 30 pounds of treats and just saying, 'Here. I want you to have these.'"
From crude analysis of sample treat batches to designing labels and managing stands at farmers' markets and expos—and all the "boring, legal stuff" along the way—Richardson is it in for the long haul and the widespread.
She hopes to expand Love Bites Treatery past the 616 to the 231, the 517, the 239 and beyond. Her five-year dream is to build a house on wheels and travel around the United States, selling treats to citizens and donating to local shelters.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter that I'm tired, hungry, broke and covered in flour," Richardson said. "I do something that I love, that matters to so many people and even more animals. I wouldn't trade my 110-hour work weeks for the best paying office job in the world."
Shop the online treatery at www.lovebites616.com.
Photo courtesy of Kelly Braman.