A Santa Monica dog food company may cater to pet owners who can afford to spend a pretty penny on their pooches, but FreeHand's sales also benefit dogs in need.
FreeHand has set up a system that is something like buy one, get one free, except the free bag is donated to a dog shelter.
Every time a pet owner purchases a bag of FreeHand-brand dog food -- an expensive, grain-free product that's labeled as "holistic" -- a retailer gets to select a shelter to receive the same amount of food for free.
It's all part of the mission of the company, which seeks to "provide you and your dog with the highest-quality food and, in the process, save the lives of abandoned and abused dogs."
"We are relieving the shelter’s financial burden of having to vaccinate, spay and neuter these dogs," said Tom Bagamane, co-founder of FreeHand. "They save money by not having to buy food since they feed the dogs directly. They save cash, so the dogs get the full impact."
The company has provided more than 46,000 meals to homeless dogs since the program’s launch in 2012.
"This is an impact that can be felt in your backyard," Bagamane added. "Rescue dogs and their plight are big topics for pet owners, especially in LA, where the ratio is much higher."
Bagamane said FreeHand can afford to give away bags of dog food pound-for-pound by cutting other parts of the company's budget.
"We’d rather put money toward actually feeding shelter dogs than toward really pretty sales displays or TV ads and high salaries," Bagamane said. "How can dogs benefit from a TV ad or coupon? That’s not going to keep a dog alive."
Camp Run-A-Mutt, a dog daycare and boarding facility in Gardena, participates in FreeHand’s donation program and sells the dog food at its retail store.
"Somebody from the rescue contacted us, and I thought it sounded really cool and said yes," owner Adele Kaufman said. "The rescues get free food, and they always need free food, so that’s awesome."
Kaufman said Camp Run-A-Mutt works closely with two rescues: Grey Save in La Canada Flintridge and Cocker Connection in Toluca Take. The rescues have received an estimated 50 pounds of free food through Camp Run-A-Mutt’s sales in the last eight months.
FreeHand's kibbles range in price from $37 to $42 per 15-pound bag, well above the cost of most dog food.
"This is a very expensive product to make," Bagamane said.
Rescue 1, the dog food donated to shelters, was specifically formulated by FreeHand for rescues so that dogs of all ages can eat the dry mix.
"A shelter doesn't know if it’s going to take in puppies or old dogs, and any dog can eat this and get back to good health," Bagamane said.
LA Dogworks in Hollywood, a chic doggie hotel offering dental hygiene and dog massages, stocked its shelves with FreeHand’s dry dog food.
"Too many dogs out there ... need to be fed," owner Andrew Rosenthal said. "But before I agreed to sell it, I tested it on my dogs, and they all enjoyed it."
The Dogington Post -- a site that reaches over 2.5 million readers each week according to its site -- nominated and crowned FreeHand as the "Best Dry Food of 2012."