Photo courtesy of K9 Salute

'Treats of Honor' for working dogs and their friends

July 16, 2018 - 11:59 am

You can honor and support working military dogs by buying delicious, healthy treats for your own four-legged friend. National Guard veteran Jessica Harris’s business, K9 Salute, honors fallen K9 heroes and supports working dogs around the globe by donating her profits and products. The business also supports veteran-owned farms by sourcing healthy ingredients locally whenever possible. 

Harris served as a combat medic with the Washington Army National Guard. After leaving the military, she took advantage of programs offered by the Institute for Veterans & Military Families like V-WISE and Boots to Business.

“I was actually working on another business idea, but in January of 2016, eight police K9's were killed in the line of duty, and 35 were killed by the end of that year,” said Harris. “I wanted to do something to honor them and help police K9 units get funds for protective vests and medical equipment.”

Harris remembers reading a dog magazine and making note of how similar all the products were on January 19 — the day of the fourth 2016 K9 casualty, Ogar from Texas.

“I thought what better way to share the stories of these dogs than to have a tribute on each bag of treats and then donate a portion of proceeds to help K9's around the country,” Harris said. “And so K9 Salute was born. In fact, K9 Ogar is one of the dogs that have a tribute on the bags.”

Photo courtesy of K9 Salute

Since then, K9 Salute has grown, supporting veteran-owned farms, local business and working dog units along the way.

“I want to support other veterans in business in as many aspects as I can,” Harris said. “I am especially passionate about America's farmers and veterans finding new careers in agriculture. To me it made sense to seek veteran farmers to source ingredients and almost have everything come ‘full circle’ with much of the business being about veterans supporting each other after the military.”

Another priority for Harris is to make treats that use healthy ingrediants forthe  furry friends.. She uses coconut oil, tumeric and a more digestible organic super sprouted flour from a local North Carolina mill. Flavors sound like they came from your farmers market:  carrot coconut, peanut butter and honey, and coconut cranberry. And, of course, all K9 Salute's treats are rigorously tested by the Vice President of Quality Control, Tilly the bullmastiff.

Photo courtesy of K9 Salute

K9 Salute even works to be environmentally friendly by using U.S.-made treat bags from recycled material and working to use all available resources.

“I try to be mindful of waste and look for farmers that use all of the animal they harvest,” Harris said. “So in looking at other products to add, I've been experimenting with bison tallow to use for our new paw and nose balms. This is just the fat from the animal, and it's full of great fatty acids and nutrients.”

A portion of the business's profits are donated to help veterans adopt service dogs and police departments maintain safe, well-trained K9 units. Harris also donates treats to deployed military dogs and to a local nonprofit that rescues shelter dogs to become service dogs for veterans.  

K9 Salute was chosen as a 2018 American Small Business Champion by SCORE and Sam’s Club, beating out 1,100 other companies to become one of 102 American Small Business Champions. Now, in the second phase of the competition, the business has a shot at a $15,000 grant. The three Grand Champion recipients of grants will be announced at the SCORE Awards Gala in Chantilly, Va. this September. With this grant, Harris plans to pursue new retail partners and develop new products including jerky, collars, leashes and nose and paw balms.

Check out K9 Salute’s website and Facebook for canine tributes, products and news.