The story of how the Furry Friends Biscuit Bakery got started is just a little bit unusual.
The Second Chance Program. The Eastern Colorado Workforce Region created a new teen work program that assisted at-risk teens. In 2005, the Fort Morgan Center was awarded a youth grant called Second Chance where teenagers on probation were hired to work with animals at their local shelter. Teens were given a second chance and animals were given a second chance.
Prior to the creation of the Second Chance program, the local animal shelter did not have regular visiting hours for prospective pet owners to view the available dogs and cats. Consequently, few people came through the shelter and few animals were adopted or reclaimed. Euthanasia rates were high.
The teens started offering regular shelter hours after school and on Saturdays. Through the grant, they were paid a small wage and worked several hours each week. During that time, they walked the dogs, started a website, and advertised the available pets. They learned work skills and were encouraged to stay in school and graduate from high school.
These teens also conducted some very successful fundraisers–bringing in thousands of dollars to help with the care and feeding of the animals at the shelter. These included events like the Valentine’s Day Pet Spa, “Howloween” Costume Contest, and walking in the Christmas parade. These activities benefited both the at-risk youth and the animals.
Formation of a Humane Society. During the two years of the Second Chance program, a group of community animal lovers also became involved with the Fort Morgan animal shelter. Once the teens started to work with the animals, the city loosened their euthanasia policy and kept dogs for a longer period of time. As dogs were getting close to their allotted time, volunteers from the community began a transfer program to move dogs to other shelters on Colorado’s Front Range.
This was the beginning of the Fort Morgan Humane Society.
In November 2006, the Fort Morgan Humane Society (FMHS) was launched when a Board of Directors was formed. Success was realized when the City of Fort Morgan contracted with the Fort Morgan Humane Society to operate the shelter in August 2009.
The Humane Society Makes a Difference. Good results materialized quickly. The work of the Humane Society soon resulted in more adoptions and reclaims and an immediate huge decrease in the euthanasia rate. Now, several times a month, a local veterinarian comes to the shelter to spay and neuter all the shelter animals, as well as offer local residents the opportunity to spay and neuter their pets for a minimum cost. Clearly, this new policy will prevent the births of many unwanted animals in rural Colorado.
The Fort Morgan Humane Society is supported by the community and surrounding counties. There are very few humane societies located on Colorado’s eastern plains, so this endeavor had some risk, but proved to be very successful. However, the FMHS still struggles to pay the bills paid even while their success grows.
Next Step. I decided that if a thrift store could work to help fund humane societies, why couldn’t other private sector ventures do the same thing? This is where the idea of starting a biscuit company had its beginning.
I have my two collies (Gabriel and Jesse), and a Keeshond (Dakota) and have fostered over 30 dogs and have found them good homes. I realized 15 years ago that good food can add to their longevity.
Feeding them quality food has been one of my top priorities and every week I make a batch of my homemade food to supplement their dry kibble. I started this practice after I discovered the poor quality ingredients that go into many dry and canned dog foods. When I say bad food–I mean it. Some pet food producers include the dried blood of slaughtered animals, diseased and dead farm and zoo animals, road kill, and hoofs, beaks and bird feet. I started to do some research.
I stopped buying many well-known dog food brands and started looking at the ingredient label. I rely on the recommendations of knowledgeable pet food retailers that know their subject area. Consequently, I buy healthy dog food, and of course, I always have to include some new treats for my furry friends.
Birth of Furry Friends Biscuit Bakery. After a year of mulling around the idea of starting a dog biscuit company, I decided it was time to create the Furry Friend Biscuit Bakery. While I recognize that the first year or so of my business will not realize a profit, my goal is to donate all of the net profits to Colorado humane societies and other animal welfare organizations that work so hard to love our homeless animals. Hopefully, our small venture will grow into a meaningful funding source for these non-profit organizations.