The Department of Animal & Avian Sciences Campus Farm Revitalization Project The University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Jennifer Boniface - Pet Food Entrepreneur





Affectionately known as "Aunt Jeni" to an ever-growing family of pets and their owners, Jennifer Boniface is perhaps the most qualified of a growing number of entrepreneurs in the world of Animal Nutrition. Boniface's academic credentials set her apart from others venturing into the manufacture of natural diets, treats and supplements for pets.

Having obtained her Bachelors degree in Animal Science (University of Maryland, 1985), Boniface held a series of positions within the USDA. Eventually, she left the world of animal care and set out into the business world. Returning to school, she pursued a career in accounting, passing the CPA exam and enjoying a successful career as a Certified Public Accountant.

Always the love of animals was in her heart, and her home was filled with cherished pets. Years later, due to serious illness in one of her beloved dogs, Boniface had occasion to visit a teaching veterinary hospital. This was a life-altering experience, serving as a catalyst by reminding her of the world of animal care she had left behind. A year later, Boniface returned once more to student life.

In graduate school, Boniface studied an endangered South American species called the Maned Wolf, conducting her research through the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Through her efforts, a special diet was developed to address some genetic health conditions which she found to be responsive to her dietary management. For this work, ("Dietary Control of Cystinuria in Maned Wolves") Boniface received her Masters degree in Animal Nutrition Science (University of Maryland, 1998).

Even before officially graduating, Boniface was busy developing her own line of pet products, based on her firmly held belief that a holistic approach to pet care is highly effective. "First do no harm," quotes Boniface, "and that describes my philosophy perfectly. Why not try an alternative remedy or a dietary supplement that you know will not hurt your pet, before resorting to harsher drugs and chemicals with their unwanted side effects?"

With one foot planted in the academic/scientific community and the other exploring the world of holistic, alternative treatments, Boniface found herself in a position to combine the best of both worlds into something special and different. Having created products that answer a real need for people who want the best for their pets, Boniface named her company Aunt Jeni's Home Made, and launched her unique pet food, treats and supplements on the market.

More than eight years later, business is booming, as more and more conscientious pet owners are extending the same attention paid to their [human] family's health care to the family pets. "People can't seem to get enough of organic, all-natural products for pets, especially when it comes to daily diets and treats," explains Boniface. "When you choose Aunt Jeni's, you choose not just the best, but peace of mind as well. Our family is a close-knit team of professionals, committed to bringing our customers only the best that Mother Nature has to offer." Women-owned and operated, Aunt Jeni's Home Made stands out from the competition in part because they specialize in utilizing the credentials, knowledge and experience of a dedicated and caring staff comprised of degreed Animal Scientists and Nutritionists. Boniface claims "We know what we are doing and how to communicate that successfully to pet owners. Owner education is a big part of what we do on a daily basis. We strike the perfect balance between being small enough to care, but big enough to compete."

The company's state-of-the-art facility is unique in the industry. The privately owned plant is FDA-registered, inspected and approved for pet food manufacturing. Using highly sophisticated, custom built equipment, every facet of production is closely controlled. The recent addition of a new, larger dehydrator is slated to assist in the expansion of the company's organic, grain-free, low-fat line of dehydrated dog treats. Their flagship treat, DogitosĀ®, was an instant hit: one taste and dogs are "roped in," as the slogan says. Their new line of Snackers Fruit & Veggie Chips has just been introduced, and is already tremendously popular. Boniface is adamant that none of their diets or treats is ever contracted out (known as "co-packing"). "We've always been very proud of that fact, and it's become even more important in the wake of the recent pet food recalls. There is truly no other pet food facility like ours, anywhere!"

View Jennifer's website at http://www.auntjeni.com/


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