They say dogs are “man’s best friend”; doesn’t your dog deserve the best?
What is Hearty Tails and what do you do?
Hearty Tails Gourmet Pet Treats is a social enterprise supported by the Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OCAPDD). We produce all-natural, fresh and locally sourced gourmet pet treats while providing skills training and employment to individuals with developmental disabilities. Hearty Tails also gives a percentage of its profit from each package of treats sold to the non-profit Ottawa Therapy Dogs (OTD) helping to support their approximate 100 volunteer handlers and their dogs.
What was the inspiration behind creating the social enterprise?
The inspiration came just over 3 years ago from our sister agency Pet Treat Bakery out of the Beaufort Association in Courtney British Columbia. Pet Treat Bakery hires over 30 individuals to produce a variety of dehydrated pet treats employing individuals with developmental disabilities. Three years on, our inspiration continues based on the belief that that everyone has a right to be employed and have meaningful work.
What day-to-day challenges do you face?
Our team's knowledge, experience and skills are in social services. With Hearty Tails we find ourselves involved in the business world that requires business planing, marketing, financial planning skills where we don't necessarily have the budget or resources to take care of. Our participants' enthusiasm keeps us going and thankfully there are many resources available to us in the Ottawa area to help us along the way.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
We have learned that we need to expand our knowledge base, build our story and develop a good business plan in order for us to succeed and continue to provide this opportunity to individuals in our community.
What is your vision moving forward?
We would like to grow the social enterprise so that we can support more individuals in the program. However with growth come more questions. For example, do we grow our product line? Invest in more equipment? Develop an online store? We need to develop our business skills in order to answer these questions and move forward.
What makes you most proud?
We are most proud of our Pet Treat Technicians, those individuals who create the product. They continue to improve their skills and are thrilled with the work opportunity. The smile on their faces when they say "I made this" makes us most proud.
Hearty Tails Gourmet Pet Treats can be purchased in many local pet stores around Ottawa. Find out where you can purchase them here.
Learn more about Hearty Tails at www.heartytails.ca