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Dog Biscuits Raise Bucks for Rescue Groups
By Sharon Gillenwater
When life handed Monica Steinisch lemons, she made dog biscuits.
A couple of years ago, Steinisch's beloved dog passed away. When the time came to adopt a new pet, she visited many dog rescue organizations.
"It was a heart-wrenching process, " says the 39-year-old Noe Valley resident. "It opened my eyes to how many dogs are out there."
To the Rescue
Shortly thereafter, Steinisch was laid off from her job. Rather than sit home feeling sorry for herself, she decided to spend some of her newfound free time volunteering for Second Chance Rescue, a Bay Area organization that "rescues" dogs from shelters and other places and finds them good homes.
Before long, she was taking on some of the group's fundraising responsibilities. But begging for donations proved to be a daunting task. "I was amazed by how much time and effort it took," she says. "It is an incredible time and energy burden on these organizations to have to raise money and do all the rescue work, too."
So Steinisch cooked up a scheme that would provide a modest but steady income for dog rescue organizations.
"A lot of rescues sell T-shirts, frisbees, bumper stickers, and calendars," she says, "but how many of these can someone buy? I wanted to take a product that dog owners were already buying and use it to raise money for dog rescue."
The answer? Dog biscuits.
Wine and...Dog Biscuits?
Her new venture--Bring Me Home Biscuits--is a dog treat business that automatically donates part of the purchase price to local rescue groups.
Steinisch debuted her product in July at a "Canine Wine and Dine" fundraiser for Second Chance Rescue. Guests bought up five cases of the biscuits, netting $300 for the organization.
Second Chance board member Paula Vlamings was thrilled about the additional funds, as well as the fact that each bag of biscuits was customized with Second Chance's name, phone number, and web site address. "It was like sending a business card home with all these supporters who might decide to volunteer, adopt a dog, or make another donation to our cause down the road," Vlamings says.
Don't Try This at Home
While it is fun to imagine Steinisch transforming her 28th Street home into a canine cookie factory, that is not exactly how it works.
"I'm not a baker," she says with a laugh, "but I knew of a company that made high-quality, all-natural biscuits that dogs love."
Made from molasses, rolled oats, and other crunchy ingredients, the biscuits look and smell like little gingerbread men. But don't be enticed by the aroma, says Steinisch, who finally gave in to temptation and sampled one herself. "They are not as sweet as they smell," she says, "but the dogs don't mind."
A Celebrity Endorsement
Recently, television star Ellen DeGeneres bought a whole case of Bring Me Home Biscuits for her new puppy, which she adopted at the East Bay SPCA during a recent visit. She was so enamored with the product that she put a link to Bring Me Home's online store on the web site for her new talk show, Ellen. DeGeneres requested that the proceeds from her Bring Me Home Biscuits purchase be donated to the East Bay SPCA.
Us regular folks can find the biscuits at such local outlets as the Animal Company, the Noe Valley Pet Company, Tower Market, Critter Fritters, Bernal Beast, and Bi-Rite Market.
A one-pound bag costs around $10, but a full $2 goes to dog rescue groups. Each store has designated a specific dog rescue organization to receive a cut from the biscuit sales.
Customers who order online at www.bringmehomebiscuits.com may designate their own favorite rescue organization. Online customers may also personalize their bags of biscuits with a message for the holidays or any other occasion.
MONICA'S MUSE: FROM STRAY TO STAR
Monica Steinisch's search for a rescue pup has a happy ending. After visiting many shelters, she fell in love with Wilbur, a Ridgeback Rotweiller mix she met at Smiley Dog Rescue in Oakland. Steinisch calls Wilbur her "inspiration" and is also motivated by the rescue dogs and their owners whom she and Wilbur regularly meet in Noe Valley parks.
While Wilbur's main job is to serve as muse and woman's best friend, he has a side gig of his own. He can currently be seen in the San Francisco-based indie film Dopamine, which is being distributed as part of the Sundance Film Series. According to Steinisch, Wilbur plays a stray in the film and has two scenes and one major closeup.