First Nations business puts traditional meat on the menu for pets

·2 min read
Keri Gray's company Indigenous Treats makes pet treats from traditional meats like rabbit and beaver. (Submitted by Keri Gray - image credit)
Keri Gray's company Indigenous Treats makes pet treats from traditional meats like rabbit and beaver. (Submitted by Keri Gray - image credit)

From rabbit to beaver to bison, Keri Gray's business is serving up traditional meat to her customers' furry friends.

Gray, who is a member of Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, owns Indigenous Treats. The business, which specializes in natural delicacies for pets, is located in Alderville First Nation, about 100 kilometres east of Toronto.

"We're working with traditional meat that we know have benefits, that [are] lean, low in fat and provide energy to our pets," Gray said.

After the Gray family started Shades of Gray Rabbitry, selling the federally inspected meat to local restaurants and grocery stores, Gray also began making treats for her own dogs so that none of the animals would go to waste.

As family and friends expressed interest in the treats, Gray had an idea for a business, spotting a gap in the market.

Indigenous Treats was born officially in January 2019.

"We started under the farm and just kind of grew it naturally and organically by word of mouth," said Gray.

"We never started advertising until this year."

Indigenous Treats works with local licensed hunters and trappers to acquire meat other than from the rabbits, which they raise themselves.

'More than a trend'

Now the treats can be found in local pet stores around Peterborough, Ont., and at their storefront in Alderville.

Scott Shin, who is a owner of a local Global Pet Foods store, said there's definitely been an increase in demand for cleaner food and treats for pets.

"I think it's more than a trend," Shin said.

"I think people are doing their research online and coming to conclusion if we try to mimic what they eat in nature, that we'll get better results compared to something that's artificial and man-made."

He said he brought the treats into the store after hearing about them by word of mouth, and said it's great to support a local business.

Submitted by Keri Gray
Submitted by Keri Gray

Twyla Mahoney, one of Gray's repeat customers, said she came across Indigenous Treats through social media and has two dogs that she said love treats.

"It's all meat, it's single ingredient," she said.

"There's no reason why any carnivore animal wouldn't like them."

Mahoney said she enjoy feeding her dogs the Indigenous Strips product but said they love all of the products.

"It's nice to be able to support an Indigenous business run by an entrepreneurial woman," said Mahoney.

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