Dog Treats Baked With Empathy: The Growlers Dog Bones Story

Kindness is baked into the DNA of Growlers Dog Bones. The company believes everyone has a purpose, and in their little corner of Columbus, Ohio, they’re proving it, one treat at a time. And people all over Central Ohio agree with the brand’s compassionate mission: Growlers educates the buyer that everyone has a place in the world, all while becoming every pup’s favorite snack. 

On-the-job training for special needs youth

Some of the Growlers Dog Bone Bakers

Growlers is a small not-for-profit organization helping young people with disabilities. Every aspect of the company is designed to help them succeed, from planning and implementing new products, to what packaging works best for the brand. Growlers makes dog treats that aren’t just tasty to our four-legged friends, but also sustainably sourced.

Grower’s Executive Director Tina Garriott spent almost two decades in the Columbus City education system, where she saw the challenges of those trying to work and develop skills that kept them in the workforce, despite their disabilities. After joining and eventually moving into leadership, she worked in the Columbus school system. “I used to have a dog training facility,” Tina said. “This job brings together two things I’m passionate about: helping people and giving the puppies all natural treats. People believe in what we’re doing. They believe in the bakers. The bakers understand this is their company. I just organize each day.”

Natural dog treats for our furry friends

Growlers uses spent grains from beer production for their dog snack products.

The company makes dog treats using the spent grains from beer production. Working with local breweries is a way to use up what would be considered a byproduct of the brewing process. Using the spent grains, they see a second life as dog treats. 

Tina continued: “We partner with twenty nine different breweries. We’re helping the environment. Collectively, we’re not doing enough with leftover grains overall. Our little company helps utilize a great protein-enriched byproduct when we collaborate with these places. We make our peanut butter, it’s so much better than store-bought stuff. We also work with a co-op in Arizona to get our brown rice flour and our brown eggs from a local farmer. Everything we do is within a small business ecosystem.” 

Because they positively utilized the spent grains, Growlers were approached by a local oat milk company that donated their leftovers. With some kitchen wizardry, Tina and her team found the perfect combination to make Growlers signature horse treats, Whinnies.

Local partnerships to help Growlers expand

Garriott is focused on the effectiveness of the company through the heart of the people working there, “The bones are handcrafted. We sit around a table and hand-make each one with these little molds. They do all the work. I supervise. Every baker signs the bags they make.” The system is designed to help people get paid and support their lives and goals. While some can’t collect a paycheck due to their Social Security status, 

Garriott is focused on rewarding them in other ways, “If they can’t get paid, we give them gift cards to Amazon or their favorite places to eat. We want them to understand that they’re rewarded for their work in the real world.” And that’s an optimistic viewpoint considering when she took over the company, it was on a slim margin, 

“When I took Growlers over, I had eight thousand dollars. And since then, we’ve grown and superseded expectations. We connected with Columbus State Community College in late 2019, specifically with Cameron Mitchell and Mitchell Hall School of Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts, a local restauranter expanding beyond our region. 

Growlers have also found a partner with local HVAC kingpins Atlas Butler who bought swaths of bones, giving them to dogs at the service calls to homes they visit for a fix or install. This promoting partnership has now grown to 5 local businesses that give away bones to their dog customers, which spreads the word organically. 

Enter ePac: the next stage of growth

Growlers’ relationship with ePac has been one that relies on trust and collaboration, “Working with our sales rep Angela Knoll has been the defining relationship for ePac and us. If we didn’t get a color or size, she helps fix it,” Tina said. “Angela has been a great advocate for what we’re trying to do. Whenever there’s been a roadblock, she helps get it resolved.” 

Angela from the ePac office visited the Growlers crew. “We invited Angela to our humble kitchen. I kept laughing because she said I’ld be happy to come to your production facility! So, two weeks later Angela arrived. Five of our bakers welcomed her. They helped get her hands dirty and make her first bone and bag her first bag. She was touched. We love Angela so much around here.” 

As Growlers evolves, there is no end in sight for how many lives they can touch or how they help some dogs everywhere feel the love that goes in every bag.