Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Just How Much Can One Little Store Do?

Susana Vasquez and Roberto Holness with Bindi, 
a regular customer at Pet Food Gone Wild. 

There seems to be a problem in New Mexico, a problem with abandoned animals. As the economy continues to worsen, so does the situation for large dogs. They are often abandoned, and in dangerous places, such as the desert where they are prey for roaming packs of coyotes. There is also a law against abandoning animals and the local no-kill shelters are filled with large dogs, dogs that are often considered un-adoptable due to their size and the expense of their care.

Those who care, do what they can. I recently adopted a medium-sized dog that I found in the desert. We have two chocolate labs that we bought from a woman who had ten puppies in a hot truck in a parking lot in Colorado. The next day, the rest of the litter was found abandoned on the side of the road. Our chihuahua was abandoned in the Texas forests and our cat was found in a dumpster 12 years ago. With four rescue dogs and a rescue cat I am at my limit according to city ordinances--five animals. There are so many people in New Mexico, like me, who want to help, but in times like these, how much can one person, one much can one little store do?

In Rio Rancho, New Mexico there is a tiny pet food store called Pet Food Gone Wild. In addition to selling only natural, organic and holistic dog and cat food, the owner of this store, Susana Vasquez, and her husband,  Roberto Holness, frequently provide foster care for dogs. They also donate dog food to local shelters.

"We actually foster animals through different rescue groups," Roberto explained. "So far, we have fostered animals for the Austin Stripes, New Mexico Dogs to Serve Better, and Eco Pink Weinermeiner Rescue.

"Every month, we also donate 500 lbs a month to different rescue groups, we ask people to nominate different groups on our Facebook page and people vote and the one that gets the most votes gets the food. Once the group gets food they do not participate for 90 days to prevent the same group from winning every time. So far, we have given food to seven groups."

The owners of Pet Food Gone Wild also have two rescue dogs, Lexie, and Leopold. They came up with the idea for the store when they moved to New Mexico from Chicago and realized they would have to drive to Albuquerque to get the quality food they needed for their dogs. Eventually, they realized a need for other services in the area, such as foster care, when they learned more about the situation dogs are facing in New Mexico. They realized they wanted to help in ways other stores don't.

Blue, one of many foster dogs 
who found homes through Pet Food Gone Wild. 

The owners of Pet Food Gone Wild are sometimes asked if they know where people can buy purebred dogs and they firmly tell them no. they do not believe in breeding dogs when there are so many good dogs in New Mexico desperate for homes.

They also urge people to look into more healthy options for their pets, such as healthy foods and healthy diets. "People think it's more expensive, but I tell people you're going to end up spending more money at the vet if you give them lower quality food," Holness explained. "Our goal is to try to better educate people on healthier options for their pets, but we also try to bring a small town feeling to our store with customer service. People bring their pets into their store to meet other dogs and other people." The store also has a dog bath facility in the back, which is very convenient, and they are working on finding a groomer to provide full-time grooming services.

Pet Food Gone Wild
2415 Southern Blvd. SE
Rio Rancho, NM 87124