Pet Age recently spoke with Anya Tucker, who is bringing species-appropriate nutrition to dog pet owners in the Long Island, New York, vicinity thanks to The K9 Shop, which she launched with her husband three years ago.
What motivated your decision to open The K9 Shop on January 3, 2017?
My husband, Robert, and I were very frustrated with the raw dog food market. It was difficult to find variety, healthy food choices, balanced meals, and there wasn’t anyone to ask or share information with in person. We needed answers, full transparency and trust. Trust is huge. Who was researching our food sources? There was a simple solution; the decision was to open our store.
The K9 Shop is now the largest raw and natural food provider in the state of New York. We have an enormous variety of complete and balanced food, whole prey, DIY raw chunks, additional foods such as bones, fish, tripe, farm eggs and other nutritional supplements. The shop is completely nutritionally focused.
One of my customers once said to me, “Anya, I love the fact that I don’t need to read everything in your shop, because you already did the research for me and I trust you.” Best compliment ever. I must say, the truth is that we have the best customers ever! Talking, teaching and hanging out with them and their pets is something looked forward to by our entire team.
A few years after opening in Massapequa, what led you to open another store in Bohemia last summer?
The Bohemia shop opened last summer because our customers from out East demanded it. They all noticed a huge change in the health of their beloved pets, and would drive from Montauk, Hamptons, Riverhead, etc. After many requests, and the success of our Massapequa shop, we decided to open our second shop.
How do you respond to people who say that “raw” is a trend?
Actually, a “trend” is what’s hip or popular at a certain point in time. Sometimes, trends can last a very long time, like kibble. Kibble, commercial dried and processed dog and cat food, is/was a trend—a trend that has been around for about 100 years because of its convenience. Open, scoop, feed.
Thankfully, people are now educating themselves and know the ingredients in kibble are heated and processed about four times before they hit the bag. Heating and processing destroys nutrients, and then a flavor coating of fats is layered onto the food before packaging.
Raw food is simply breaking away from the kibble trend, and going back to what Mother Nature naturally supplies: real, fresh food.
How do you educate your customers about the benefits of a raw diet for dogs, cats and other carnivorous companion animals?
I am a New York City public school teacher, and nothing is more important to me than teaching. We make sure that all of our customers leave the shop educated and have a raw feeding diet plan that is specific to their pet’s nutritional needs. Our fabulous team believes in raw, bioavailable and nutritionally balanced fresh food, including vitamins and minerals that are naturally found in organ meats and bone. Changing a pet’s diet can help prevent cancer, obesity, diabetes and feeling sick. Even animals with genetic dispositions can have a great life by eating correctly and including necessary supplements to help prevent illnesses from occurring.
If our customers are proactive, and prevent diseases in the first place, they will have healthy pets that feel great and thrive.
What are some of the food brands that you carry?
We sell many different types of foods in our shops, catering to animals that have different nutritional needs and/or medical issues. Every brand that we carry must pass strict requirements before we allow it to be sold. All of our brands are raw and natural with the majority only containing single ingredients. All of the products must be sourced from the U.S. or another reputable source such as Iceland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. We do not offer any brands that contain fillers or byproducts. In many instances we have toured the manufacturing plants to make sure they meet our rigorous guidelines. Some of the premier brands that we carry include K-9 Kraving, Top Quality, Green JuJu, Answers, Crumps, Icelandic, Holi Chow Treats, Fegnion, Tickled Pet, Adored Beast and BioStar US. These are just a few that are we partner with in creating biologically appropriate food and treats. We also work closely with numerous local farms to bring in items such as turkey necks, duck necks, chicken feet and fresh raw goat milk. We work directly with these local farms to cut out the middleman and are able to provide a “farm to bowl” quality of food. If we won’t feed it to our dogs, we will not sell the product!