Bend Pet Express Celebrates 30 Years of Caring for Pets and Their People
For three decades, there’s been a place where the focus is on how both pets and their people can lead their best lives together. Since its founding in 1993, the dedicated founders and staff at Bend Pet Express have helped Bend, Oregon pet lovers care for their furry family members. They understand that no two pets are the same. They offer advice on how to tend to the unique nutritional needs of each four-legged friend. Or can recommend best practices for physical exercise and offer a range of toys for creative play and products for leisure. The local business has a dedication to education and confident pet-centric shopping experiences. Dogs, cats and their human companions all benefit from peace of mind by trusting a long history of expertise.
Providing 30 years of knowledge, Bend Pet Express (BPE) has also grown and evolved right alongside the community. Not only has it continued to put the optimal health and well-being of pets first, but it has taken strides to incorporate more sustainable practices within the business. And, as always, BPE emphasized community engagement to be part of Central Oregon’s heartbeat. Through charitable giving, and engagement with its customers, it has remained a solid cornerstone of the Central Oregon community. They not only connect people to their pets, they connect them to their neighbors, strengthening the bonds of community. It’s all much like creating a family.
All in a Fur-Family History
When Bend Pet Express Founder Julie Hunter couldn’t find a specially formulated dog food for her ailing dog, she took it upon herself to make the process easier. She wanted all pet owners to have a resource for formulations beyond the standard grocery store big-bag fare.
Seeing first-hand how her dog responded to dietary changes helped her realize that pet lifespans and life enjoyment would be optimized with a high-quality diet of natural ingredients. Before she passed away in 2021, she had said, “I filled my garage with premium dog food, and I decided that my new career goal would entail educating the public and helping our four-legged friends live longer, healthier lives.”
Hunter quickly outgrew garages and warehouses of those first days and opened the first retail space in Sisters, Oregon. The heart of the small business was the way it focused on family and community, and it helped create a new model for pet-human interdependence. BPE defined a family to include four-legged pets. Two stores opened in Bend, in 2001 and 2003. As the business moved into the future, the human family would also be a central tenet. When Hunter retired in 2019, her nephew Ryan Kwaterski began to lead with both a focus on the original mission and a vision toward the future.
Since taking the reins, Kwaterski is highly involved in not only the day-to-day operations, but also in ways the company can support the community it has created. He works with his team to make the best decisions on what products to carry and how to be more sustainable. Before being added to the shelves, items are vetted through personal conversations with industry experts. The staff also often conducts its feeding trials to stand behind its commitment to pet nutrition.
BASS, a massive pit bull, comes by Eastside multiple times a week with his person to pick out a treat and say hi. Every time, BASS makes a point to find each member of staff to ask for love. We always look forward to his sweet face and wiggly butt. – Kiyta, BPE employee
Bend Pet Express Nutrition and Well-Being
Pet health is at the core of the Bend Pet Express mission and quality nutrition is as important to Kwaterski and his team today as it was to Julie Hunter 30 years ago.
“Julie always did her research. She wanted the best of the best and solutions-based formulas,” Stephanie Wright, director of procurement, says about the founder. “We’ve kept that true to form here. We go through a pretty intensive process to bring in products. We don’t carry food just for the sake of brand name recognition or because of a marketing campaign,” Wright says. Products on the retail shelves are ones that BPE stands behind. To create confidence, Kwaterski, Wright, and their team are dedicated to understanding the needs of pets and their owners. It starts with their own education and enthusiasm and the confidence that comes with passing on that knowledge to their customers.
Awareness and education around the ways a raw diet impacts a dog’s longevity is important. “We focus on the benefits of raw diets, and are following the science and the studies behind them,” says Wright. Conversations are continual whether with industry experts, or the pet owners themselves. Only premium-quality pet foods and quality-tested products are found at Bend Pet Express. “If it’s something that we don’t believe in, we won’t use it on our pets, and we won’t sell it,” continues Wright.
The Extra Care at Bend Pet Express
The folks on the retail floor are the ultimate pet people, making them sounding boards to listen carefully and help customers find the right product to meet their pet’s needs. That same care is extended whether in person, online or on a call. However you prefer to communicate, the team is available. And so are options for pick up or delivery. Bend Pet Express strives to make quality care easy by offering free delivery in the Bend area. Within 500 square miles (just over 12 miles) five days a week, they’ll get products from their door to yours. All of this happens either the same day or the next depending on the time of day you place your order. That’s not only white-glove treatment, but the service is at no charge so that your pet will never miss one of their favorite meals of the day!
I remember meeting Baron, a gorgeous long-haired German Shepherd, and his amazing mom who was looking for help. Baron was strong and was almost able to pull his human right off her feet! They became some of my favorite visitors at the store – watching Baron and his mom work together with new tools and ideas made my day every time they stopped by. – Stephanie, BPE employee
Sustainable Future in Bend
It’s not enough to know your favorite locally owned pet store has a shelf stocked with items to keep pets healthy, with happy stomachs and shiny coats. The team makes sure each product also aligns with BPE values. Sustainability is a guiding principle. Making sure food products are ethically and sustainably sourced is part of the team’s vetting process. Optimal care for a pet family extends to optimal care for the planet, too.
Setting up a recycling program to address waste created by the pet food industry was a way Bend Pet Express took practical strides. Recycling pet food packaging is one step, and customers will find drop bins at each location. By utilizing TerraCycle, a national company focused on zero-waste solutions, pet food packaging is repurposed versus dumped in local landfills. Simply bring clean food or treat boxes, bags or cans to the location nearest to you.
Pets Plus People Equal Community
Sustaining healthy lifestyles for people and pets is just one part of what has kept BPE a pillar of the Central Oregon community for 30 years and it’s a legacy Kwaterski and his team continue guided by central tenets. Wright explains its three core beliefs:
- First, BPE believes that every pet deserves a healthy and fulfilling life. And a healthy and fulfilling life isn’t about spending more money. Rather, it is about being educated and informed on what high-quality, life-extending products your money is buying.
- Second, they believe that pet owners should be able to make decisions free from marketing campaigns and jargon. It believes customers should have access to unbiased, clear information that enables them to make the best choices for their pets’ day-to-day life health and toward a robust lifespan.
- Finally, they are committed to strengthening its community by extending help to those in need.
These principles guide every decision they make, ensuring that they take a step towards a healthier, happier life for pets.
Bend Pet Express Dog Wash
The goal of optimal pet wellness is well-paired with Central Oregon’s outdoorsy lifestyle when healthy pets hit dusty trails. They converge at the Bend Pet Express Dog Wash. A series of bays are found within the retail stores with a selection of products to address a pet’s muddy skin or coat. Customers are welcome to wash their companions themselves, either periodically after an especially muddy romp along the river, or regularly to keep a pet’s coat clean and healthy. The dog-washing experience can be bonding and fun when it’s made easy. Need a hand, or a short on time? Schedule an appointment with a concierge groomer to give your dog a VIP treatment. “We even offer calming skin-care solutions, such as a soothing mud bath,” says Wright. Whether rinsing muddy paws, or being treated with a soothing mud treatment, after a rinse and dry, clean dogs leave as happy dogs.
While working in the dog wash, a regular became like a second mom to me. She even remembered my kids’ birthdays, since I’m terrible with memory. For that first Christmas, she gave me a homemade card with a photo of Maggie, her dog. 10+ years later, I still have that card in my new office. – Kim, BPE employee
Charitable Business Creates Community
From its beginnings in Julie Hunter’s garage, and with goals to give pets the healthiest lifestyles, and layers of service for pet families across Central Oregon, BPE has remained devoted to the community.
When looking to offer a wide selection of pet products, BPE also tries to source products locally as much as possible. They participate in community fundraisers and auctions and are consistent in their commitment to charitable giving. Supporting both nonprofits and pets shows up in unique ways, too. It continues to innovate on ways to support pet guardianship and enrich living the best lives for both people and pets. Did you know Bend Pet Express provides kennels at the High Desert Museum? Tour the museum with confidence that your furry road-trip companion is safe and secure.
The Next 30 Years in Central Oregon
Bend, Oregon may be known as one of the most dog-friendly cities in the United States and has been named DogTown U.S.A by Pet Fancy magazine. Its pets may be some of the happiest in the country, too. By supporting people and the four-legged animals that love them, BPE has created a 30-year tradition in Central Oregon. This is part of what makes the region a pet lover’s paradise.
Cheers to the way Bend Pet Express has celebrated our furry friends every day of the year for 30 years! Click to learn more about Bend Pet Express here.
Published January 2024
Enter to Win from Bend Pet Express
The contest has ended. For the complete list of rules, visit our contest policy page. Here’s what was won (see image below):
- $100 Bend Pet Express Gift Card
- (1) free wash at either Bend Pet Express Dog Wash (East) or Muddy Paws (West)
- Gift bag of a Bend Pet Express tote, toys, treats, and other goodies including a MiiR Camp Cup and Miir Dog Bowl
Two More Will Each Win
- $25 Gift Card
- 1 free wash
- Gift bag of a Bend Pet Express tote, toys, treats, and other goodies
Winners will be notified on Monday, February 12, 2024 via email. Thank you for entering to win and good luck!