Karen Scoggins devoted 25 years to building a successful career in science, engineering, and research & development. While she loved the work she was doing, her true passion was outside of the office and walked on four legs. In 2007, the devoted animal lover’s life took an unexpected detour when her healthy yellow lab Hunter suddenly died. Unbeknownst to Karen, he was one of tens of thousands of innocent canines and felines to have eaten poisoned pet food. It was a terrible tragedy that would become her catalyst for change.

On March 15, 2007, within weeks of Hunter’s passing, news headlines across the globe announced the largest pet food recall in U.S. history, involving almost 180 brands (some of the biggest and best names in the business). As countless, otherwise healthy pets started inexplicably dying or falling gravely ill, the FDA traced the cause back to what they were ingesting – pet food contaminated with melamine and cyanuric acid. When these two poisons are combined they can cause renal disease and renal failure in small animals.

Hunter_collageThe investigation revealed the unthinkable… the contamination was intentional. According to one report, “Unscrupulous suppliers in China added the contaminants in trying to inflate the apparent protein levels in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate. The adulterated ingredients ended up in foods and treats made by 12 different manufacturers, according to court documents.”

This was a major wake-up call for Karen. How could she not know exactly what was in the food she was feeding her pets? Her pets were her babies, after all. While reeling from the devastating loss of her beloved Hunter, who served as a therapy dog, Karen embarked on a mission to become a home cook for her pets so she would know exactly what they were eating – fresh, whole, natural and safe ingredients.

Over the next 3 years, while still working full time, the R&D specialist tirelessly immersed herself in a different kind of research and development… she was focused on the relationship between diet and pet health. Karen poured over white papers, cold-called leading vets at top universities, and spoke with breeders, pet stores, and restaurant food suppliers.

The more she learned about the pet food industry, the more horrified – and angry – she became.

Ultimately, Karen amassed a network of healthcare and nutrition experts who guided her on the path to making the perfect pet food, a blend of all-natural, fresh, restaurant-quality ingredients that would provide maximum nutrition with the least processing and no harmful preservatives. Being easily digestible was also a priority.

But would her Chief Tasting Officers – Boomer and Roxy – eat it? They sure did, and the dogs were thriving. Word spread and soon Karen was homecooking pet food for friends and family. It was tough keeping up with the demand, but it became a true labor of love.

Despite being just two short years away from corporate retirement, Karen now found herself on the verge of starting an entirely new career, one that was based on her true passion and ability to make a difference. So she went for it… she decided to go into the pet food business, but pet food done her way, on her terms, with her ingredients, none of which would come from China.

My perfect pet food_packaging

Karen launched My Perfect Pet in May 2009 and has never looked back. Over the last five years, she has grown the business into a brand that puts pet health over profits, and educates owners on how to make better food choices for their pets.

A testament to her commitment to quality, Karen’s My Perfect Pet food is prepared in accordance with FDA food safety standards using a combination of fresh, whole food 100% human grade ingredients: fresh boneless, skinless meat that is lightly baked for safety while preserving nutrients, and fresh fruits and vegetables (non-GMO and pesticide free). 100% complete and balanced supplements are added where needed. All the food is then frozen as freezing eliminates the need to add preservatives or other unnatural additives.

What My Perfect Pet does not and will never contain are meals, ground bones/frames, preservatives, corn, wheat and soy, beet pulp and sugars, synthetic vitamins, or gluten.

To give you some perspective on the level of quality the brand stakes its reputation on, Karen’s pet food can be served in restaurants… that’s right, human restaurants. What’s more, Karen says that her perfect food recipe leads to the “perfect poop,” an anecdote that any pet owner will understand and appreciate as dog and cat poop is often a telling (and odorous) indicator of their overall health.

My Perfect Pet food pack

At the time of our interview with Karen, she had just expanded beyond her brand’s original 5,500 square foot commercial food manufacturing facility into a new “Kitchen,” almost triple the size at 14,000 square feet. It’s filled with members of what Karen calls “The Pack,” her food production team of certified food handlers that all have the same passion for pet health and nutrition as she does.

The proud Pack Leader says, “We dedicate every batch to Hunter and the thousands of pets and families affected over the years by poor quality food we had trusted to be healthy and safe.”

85% of all independent pet stores are owned by women.

My Perfect Pet dog food is now available in almost 300 independent pet stores in 17 states across the U.S. By the end of 2014, Karen expects to be in 32 states and in all 50 states by 1Q 2015. She also has plans in the works to expand her My Perfect Pet brand to include cat food, as well.

When she’s not running her growing pet food empire, Karen is an active member of the National Foundation for Pet Provided Therapy as a handler and trainer, and is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the San Diego chapter of Love On A Leash. She also conducts regular talks for local dog trainers and clubs on the topic of “Understanding Pet Nutrition.”

Women You Should Know Disclaimer: Before switching to any new food or nutrition plan for your pet, consult with your veterinarian first.