Dog lover starts company to give pet owners safer dog treat option

If you’re a dog lover, you are probably acutely aware of the horrifying issue of our furry friends becoming ill from jerky treats made in China.

Since 2007, the FDA has been tracking reports from owners who say contaminated treats made their pets sick. As of May 1st, there have been 5600 reports of dogs falling ill, and over 1000 fatalities reported.

These are statistics that motivated dog owner and pet shelter volunteer, Vicki Price to take action by starting her Glenview based gourmet jerky treat company, Cooper’s Way.

“All these articles started coming out about imported jerky from China with contaminants found that included arsenic, melamine and human antibiotics,” said Price, who started the company in 2012. “I started looking all over for USA made chicken jerky that wasn’t processed and I thought, ‘How hard can it be to find a plain piece of chicken breast?’ It was impossible.”

Price, a dental hygienist who has worked in the field since 1978 said she adopted her first dog from an animal shelter two decades ago. Describing the experience as “falling head over heals in love,” Price has been a dog lover ever since, and has adopted a handful of dogs since.

A few years ago, one of her dogs, Coco became ill and died a month later. Left devastated and heartbroken, Price said doctors were unable to explain the sudden fatality. It wasn’t until some time later, when Price was about to give her dog, Cooper some jerky, that she realized contaminated jerky might have played a role in Coco’s death.

“Cooper loves chicken jerky and one time I opened up the package and all of a sudden it hit me that maybe that’s why Coco died,” said Price, referring to the Collie Brittany mix who she adopted from a kill shelter in Chicago five years ago, and who she named her company after.

With the help of her boyfriend of six years, Ken Solan, who is now the chief operating officer of the company, Price began researching and experimenting with jerky recipes.

“The ironic thing is, I don’t cook. I hate to cook, but I’d do anything for Cooper,” said Price, who has been a volunteer at Orphans of the Storm for several years. “We made the first batch and I gave it to Cooper and I’d never seen this reaction to anything. The dog went nuts over it.”

Cooper’s Way manufactures and sells chicken breast jerky, pork loin jerky, beef heart jerky and sweet potato chips.

Made in a commercial kitchen in Palatine, all products contain restaurant quality ingredients that are fresh and never frozen.

“We have the world’s shortest ingredient list,” Price said.

Cooper’s Way jerky is available on the company’s website, Coopersway.net, or at over 50 retail locations around Chicagoland, including Sunset Foods, Grand Food Center in Winnetka, Noah’s Ark in Winnetka, Spa For Dogs in Northbrook, Chalet in Wilmette, and Wiggly Tails in Northbrook.

“There are a lot of choices when it cones to dog treats, but hard quality treats are hard to find,” said Wiggly Tails owner, Judd Hackl. “These products are all made here. Vicki sees it from start to finish, ensuring quality and safety. Nothing is out of her sight.”

“We were one of her very first stores to carry the product,” said Gabbie Roderer, who is the Pet Essentials Manager for Chalet. “It sells very well because people like the fact that it’s a local company and that Vicki has complete control over the ingredients.”

Price said the products are slightly more expensive than other jerky brands, but that she and Solan keep the prices as reasonable as possible without sacrificing quality.

“You can tell this isn’t a passing for her,” Roderer said. “This is a passion. The business is in her core. She truly loves and cares about dogs.”

Cooper’s Way

(224) 635-COOP

Coopersway.net

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