Hendersonville company produces top-quality pet food
Sherri Cappabianca can’t stand to be without a dog for too long. After her beloved Golden Retriever passed away, it took her about a month to adopt another canine companion. His name? Fletcher. His breed? A Golden Doodle-Lab-Wolfhound mix. “He’s beautiful, and he has the most calm personality,” Cappabianca says. “He likes every dog he meets.”
Like Fletcher, Cappabianca tends to enjoy the company of most dogs she encounters. That’s why she and her partner, Toby Gass, created Canine Harvest, a Hendersonville company that produces dog food from locally sourced, human-grade ingredients.
Founded about a year ago, Canine Harvest currently has one product on the market, a bone broth made from Hickory Nut Gap Farm beef. It can be purchased at independent pet boutiques Barkers’ Anonymous (which is also a training facility) and Wag!, both located in Hendersonville. “[The bone broth] has a fermented vegetable brine in it [from Fermenti Foods], which makes it unique,” Cappabianca notes. “It also has a lot of probiotics that other bone broths don’t have.”
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has substantially slowed production, Cappabianca and Gass have a couple of other products in the works for when things return to normal. One is a pork formula, to be sourced from Vandele Farms on Cedar Creek, in Lake Lure.
Cappabianca is a big fan of pork, because, she says, “it’s a clean meat … and relatively few dogs are allergic to it.” The duo is also working on a pork/rainbow trout formula, using fish from Sunburst Trout Farms in Waynesville. “We’ll roll out both of those as soon as we can start heavy production again,” she says.
Cappabianca and Gass have been in business together since 2011, when they opened Rocky’s Retreat, a canine health-and-fitness center in Orlando. Cappabianca had been working full time as a software engineer when she had a vivid dream about becoming a canine masseuse — a dream she believes occurred because her Golden Retriever was suffering from hip issues. That vision set in motion a series of events that led her and Gass, who had been living in New Jersey, to leave corporate America and pursue a more fulfilling career involving dogs.
They relocated to Western North Carolina about two years ago, buying acreage on which they built a couple of houses. They were ready to slow down a bit, but didn’t want to fully retire. Their background in canine nutrition led them to believe that starting a dog-food company might be the logical next step.
“With all the readily available produce, farmers, ranches, grass-fed cattle, and pork [in Western North Carolina], it seemed like a natural fit for us to support the local community, while making high-quality products,” Cappabianca says.
So far, it’s worked out. And at the end of the day, it’s all for the love of dogs. “What draws me to them is their unconditional love for you,” she says. “They offer you something that I don’t even think another human can offer.”