A pioneer in natural pet food, the founder of this company overcame challenges that would crush many others, and triumphed.
When faced by adversity, especially in the form of legal action, many of us would back down, even if it meant giving up what we believe in. Not Sissy Harrington-mcGill, the founder of Solid Gold Health pet food.
Sissy has been raising great Danes for 50 years. When she had three die of bloat, she knew something was wrong. she flew to Germany in 1974 to visit some kennels and was surprised to learn they had never heard of bloat. On top of that, the lifespan of great Danes in Germany was 11 to 13 years, while their American counterparts were only living seven to nine years. “There was something I was missing,” Sissy says.
Further research revealed the issue was diet-related. “They didn’t use soy, wheat and corn in their dog foods,” explains Sissy. “They use things like amaranth and barley instead. They also never use poultry fat, but canola and flaxseed oil.”
Sissy returned to the US and set to work developing and selling a natural dog food. but like a lot of pioneers, she came up against opposition and obstacles. “The FDA did everything under the sun to close me down,” she says, adding that she was taken to court and even served a stint in prison at one point.
But Sissy refused to give in and today, over 35 years later, Solid Gold pet foods are found in 4,000 stores throughout the US, and also in Canada. The company offers high quality natural dry and canned diets for dogs and cats, as well as biscuits and treats, supplements, and products for skin and coat care. Solid Gold pet foods contain no wheat, soy or corn, and are rich in Omega 3 oils such as canola and salmon. The company also uses foil barrier packaging to preserve and maintain the quality and palatability of their dry foods without any chemical preservatives or flavor enhancers.
As if she hasn’t already accomplished enough, Sissy does a lot of charity work too. “This Saturday [August 25], we’re going to the San Diego humane society’s Annual fur Ball,” she says. “We’re one of the sponsors.” Sissy also belongs to other Humane Societies, and the company’s local shelter gets donations of pet food. “When I die, all the money is going to go to the solid Gold foundation. We are in the process of looking for land to build a no-kill shelter.”
Sissy has personal proof that a natural diet works. She recently lost one of her great Danes – at 18½ years old, a stunning age for a large breed dog. And her passion for what she does is underscored by her love for dogs. “At Christmas I get all sorts of cards, from poopy or bailey, and they send me pictures. I have no kids, and I’m not married. The dogs are my babies.”