Pet Pleasers Bakery
When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: 660 Dawsonville Highway, Gainesville
More info: www.petpleasersbakery.com or 770-534-3843
As health food stores begin popping up more frequently in North Georgia, health-conscious individuals have started searching for ways to make their furry friends healthier as well.
And Pet Pleasers Bakery on Dawsonville Highway is filling that niche. The pet food store has been serving up all-natural, homemade dog treats, cookies, muffins and birthday cakes for years, though the shop has changed hands.
“We purchased (the bakery) from a lady who developed the recipes who was an RN at the hospital, and her love was looking after pets,” owner Ina Griffin said. “She subsequently died of cancer, and we purchased it.
“At that time it was a little hole in the wall in Oakwood, and then we moved to a different location in Oakwood that was a bit larger, and then up here, where we’ve been for 3« years.”
Griffin and her husband, David, are passionate about animals. When they discovered Pet Pleasers in its former location, they fell in love with the idea and knew they had to manage the business when their friend became ill.
Since her death, the Griffins have kept her original recipes, although they are developing new ones to expand the store’s choices.
For now, however, they will stick to the popular pet indulgences.
The bakery offers more than 15 varieties of freshly made dog cookies along with liver brownies, muffins and holiday cakes and cookies for pets.
“You can identify the cookies by shape,” Griffin said. “Bacon and cheese twists, oatmeal soft-bites, beefy bones, chicken stars are the most popular. Our customers come in and eat around the table because they can taste any of the cookies; it’s all human-consumable. If we say it’s peanut butter, then it’s real peanut butter.”
Pet Pleasers is proud to use all-natural, human-grade ingredients with no artificial color, flavor, sugar, salt or preservatives. Customers can taste — and enjoy — any of the cookies. The bakery uses local ingredients to ensure high quality and has a baker who makes the treats fresh each morning.
“We try to buy everything local if we can,” Ina Griffin said. “The farthest we go is Dawn Foods in Austell. We get all of our flour in 50-pound bags, just like they would take it to the pizza restaurant next door.”
Since the ingredients are all-natural and the treats don’t have any preservatives, they are perishable. The baked dog cookies have a low-moisture content and will last from six months to three years. Liver brownies will last about three days in the refrigerator.
The Griffins also ship orders nationwide, sell their treats at area Whole Foods stores and take custom orders for birthday cakes that can travel anywhere.
“We have a bunch of people (who) are interested in carrying our cookies and our liver brownie bites,” Pet Pleasers manager Gina Woolsey said. “We have met a lot of people by going to shows and events. We make our birthday cakes and ship them all over.”
David Griffin noted Pet Pleasers’ birthday cakes have been to 42 states. The company is looking to expand recipes and locations.
“We are trying to create recipes for grain-free cookies, but so far we have been unsuccessful,” Woolsey said. “We feel like if we don’t want to eat them, then your dog won’t want to eat it. We are also looking at doing a franchise or opening another location.”
In addition to the wide range of healthy, tasty treats the bakery creates, Pet Pleasers carries a variety of high-quality dog foods and other pet health products such as vitamin supplements.
“The reason we decide to carry these brands is because they’re the top in quality and nutrition,” David Griffin said. “They’re considered star-4 and star-5-grade dog foods; you can’t buy them in a big-box store.”
The store carries specialty brands such as Zignature, Sojos and Fromm. Ina Griffin takes pride in choosing these foods and will not carry any foods made in China because of recalls.
“Graded numerically, I have seen foods as low as nine and as high as 127,” she said. “I carry nothing in my store that grades below 100. I research it. I talk to the company. I buy no product that contains corn, soy or is preserved with BHA or BHT, which is known to cause cancer in dogs.
“I can tell by the ingredients if I want to carry the food or not.”
Foods carried at Pet Pleasers are lab-tested for quality and nutrition, so the Griffins and Woolsey recommend both treats and foods for certain dogs based on needs and ingredients.
“Dogs that have pancreatitis shouldn’t eat high-fat cookies,” Woolsey said. “We do have a lower-fat variety, the liver brownies are very low fat, and we have a sweet potato cinnamon cookie that is only 6 percent fat.
“Most of our cookies can be broken, so you can just break a little piece off for a little dog.”