This weekend, Wondercide talked to Jenna Yarosh, owner of Patton Avenue Pet Company in Asheville, North Carolina. We chatted about opening the store, why pet nutrition is important, and how pet owners can do what’s right for their cats and dogs.
Here’s our conversation in full!
Wondercide: Why did you open Patton Avenue Pet Company?
Jenna: I wanted to stay in Asheville and decided I would combine the topics I knew so well. I went to school for Animal Science, and I’ve always worked with animals. And when I wasn’t working with animals, I was working retail. My first job ever was in a pet store when I was fourteen. So, it was great for me to be able to combine my two backgrounds and open Patton Avenue Pet Company!
Wondercide: Could you tell me about your experience with and your commitment to pet nutrition?
Jenna: I have a degree in Animal Science from the University of Vermont. I’ve also always been really interested in food and how it affects your health: using food as medicine. I did a lot of research – read a lot of nutrition books – and I decided to put a focus on biologically appropriate food and making sure that what we’re feeding our animals is the healthiest thing for them, and not just convenient for us.
Our first location has over half the store devoted to food and our second is about 50/50, but we always encourage people to think about what they’re feeding their animals, even if they’re just coming in for treats or a collar. We want people to learn something when they come into the store and have an educational experience, rather than just a shopping trip.
Wondercide: What is your favorite thing about running Patton Avenue Pet Company?
Jenna: My favorite thing is being my own boss and only having my customers to answer to. The customers are my boss! I really like being able to make the decisions, and it feels great to be able to just do the things I want for my stores and not have to ask permission.
Wondercide: What types of events does Patton Avenue host?
Jenna: We host vaccination clinics, educational seminars, training classes and fundraisers. Next week, we’re doing an after-hours shopping event for local rescue organizations. We’re going to stay open for an extra two hours, and the rescues will get a percentage of any sales we make during that time. I’m excited about it!
Wondercide: What is your experience with holistic pet care?
Jenna: That’s pretty much the basis of all my experience! The reason I got into holistic pet care is that I have an epileptic dog. When I got him, I didn’t know anything about it, and when I took him to the vet, they put him on drug after drug after drug. The seizures eventually slowed down, but he got really overweight, he was really unhealthy and he was aging very quickly. It was just breaking my heart. I didn’t want him to get so old so fast, and so I started doing a lot of research on alternative medicine to see what I could do besides just using pills.
Taking a holistic route, I was able to wean him off of all of those drugs, and now he’s not having any seizures and he’s not taking all those pills every day. He had this old man pill case before, and I was happy to give them to him if it was helping. But when it all started he was having two seizures a week, and now without any of those drugs, he’s down to two a year. And he’s just doing awesome.
It was important for me to make a conscious decision of what to leave out of his care, rather than keep adding more and more solutions. So I stopped vaccinating him, I put him on a raw food diet, and I stopped using chemical flea & tick medicine. I don’t give him any drugs whatsoever. He tore his ACL and rather than go do a surgery where he’d have to go under anesthesia and get on pain killers, I went with conservative management and rehab.
So that whole experience really got me started with holistic pet care back before I opened the store. When I was opening Patton Avenue Pet Company there wasn’t a question in my mind that we would go the holistic route. We don’t sell chemical flea & tick medicine because I believe that Wondercide is much safer for animals and is as effective, and I wouldn’t sleep well at night doing it any other way. Of course, I could make a lot of money selling flea & tick spot drops, but instead I only sell things that I would use on my own animals. And I sleep very well at night knowing that what I am selling is safe and effective!
Wondercide: How do you and your customers use Wondercide Natural Products?
Jenna: We focus mostly on Wondercide Flea & Tick Control for Pets & Home, and my customers love it. We suggest it both for people who come in with existing issues and for prevention. I spray it on myself in front of my customers to show how safe it is. I use at home because we get bad mosquitoes, and it’s amazing that you can use it on yourself and have such great effects. People really respond well to it.
Wondercide: Do you have any advice for people who want to do the absolute best for their pets?
Jenna: The best piece of advice I can give is to go slowly. I am very conservative in terms of animal care. Doing too much is almost as bad as not doing enough. It’s important to get your animals on a quality food. You should make sure they’re not getting anything toxic and that everything that goes into their body is healthy because if the inside of the body is not healthy, the outside won’t be either. Things like yeast infections or flea & tick issues can seem like only external problems, but in reality everything starts inside. Make sure your pets aren’t getting over-vaccinated or absorbing chemical flea & tick toxins, and that way you can keep their bodies in good shape.
Taking a holistic approach to pet care is definitely more work. If the issue is that you don’t have time, that’s one thing. But if you have the time, it’s not always more expensive – and often it’s less expensive – to treat your animals in a natural, holistic way. There’s just a little more effort involved. If people are willing to put that extra effort in, they get so much back. Their animal lives longer, they’re at the vet less. You can see the benefits so far outweigh any drawbacks.
Wondercide: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Jenna: The thing I always tell people is that even a little bit is better than nothing. If you can’t feed raw food at every meal, a little bit will still help. If you can reduce your pet’s exposure to toxins by using traditional drugs and solutions less frequently, that makes a difference, too. Everything is not black and white; there’s a lot of gray area. So, just add a little bit of holistic care to your pet’s routine, and it will really go a long way!