Jacqueline Prehogan is a lifelong animal lover.
“I was that kid begging her parents for a dog her entire life,” she says, laughing. “I wanted to be a vet, but it turns out I’m super squeamish. I sort of knew that wasn’t my path, but I always knew I wanted to build my career and my life around animals.”
So, it only makes sense that after a brief stint as an accountant, Prehogan went back to her animal-loving roots and started solving problems in the pet industry. She started by elevating pet gear and apparel with her first company, Canada Pooch, focusing on style and functionality. But her next mission was a little closer to home.
“At the same time as building Canada Pooch, my husband and I had gone through a change in our philosophy around food and meat,” she explains via Zoom. “We started to really think about where our meat was coming from and get really selective.”
They decided to take a similar approach with the diets of their pets. “Our pets at this point—we had two of our three dogs—they are our family, and we wanted to feed them the same way,” she continues. “And we actually went out and looked for food that would meet our needs. And we couldn’t find anything. It didn’t exist.”
So they decided to create it themselves, launching Open Farm in 2014: an ethically-sourced and humanely-raised sustainable cat and dog food company that takes its job seriously.
Open Farm is the first pet food company to sell certified humane pet food, and is the only pet food where 100 percent of the meat proteins used have an animal welfare certification (and that includes the seafood). The brand’s lineup includes freeze-dried raw food, bone broths, stews, treats, and supplements.
“We had to build an entirely new supply chain,” Prehogan says. “Even our manufacturing facilities are audited to ensure that there’s segregation of ingredients, and only those ingredients are going into our food. And that’s super core to where we started. Once we got into the pet food world, we learned that there is a deep lack of trust with consumers. So from day one, we built an infrastructure that not only had the best ingredients, but we also knew where our ingredients came from.”
When launching Open Farm, they also discovered that pet food packaging is relatively un-recyclable due to the nature of the bag. So they solved that, too, by partnering with companies like TerraCycle to find alternative solutions for packaging that would produce less waste. They’ve recycled over 300,000 packages to date.
Prehogan and her team continue to strive towards constant innovation, checking every box imaginable to ensure that their organization creates a lasting positive impact on the planet and with their customer base. And to successfully earn the trust of loving pet parents, transparency is key.
“We had this idea to create a traceability app on our website,” Prehogan says. Each product has a code on it that, when inputted through the app, pulls up a whole report on where each ingredient came from and what certifications it has. As she adds: “It’s just that added that level of comfort for you to see what’s in your pet’s food.”