Passover and Your Pooch’s Plate

by Mary Haight on April 9, 2009

I saw a great article this morning in the New York Times that asked ‘what happens to the family dog during Passover?’  Charlie, a furry four-legged family member, can be a real issue for many Jewish families during Passover week.  How can you follow the Torah’s directive to clear the house of all grains when the dog has to take the nourishment he needs?  And never mind that it’s only for a short time…what of families who keep Kosher all year, who hold the belief that Jewish law is broken when meat and dairy are mixed?



The Chicago Rabbinical Council was contacted in 2003 by the new owner of Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company, Holly Sher, requesting information as to how she might acquire kosher certification for her products.  The idea came to her when she noticed a neighbor feeding her dog in the garage in order to keep grains out of the house during Passover.  Sher earned her right to apply the “Kosher for Passover” label to most of her dog food lines and a some of the cat foods.  The orders started pouring in, and Charlie was no longer seen to be fine dining in the garage!

The 2007 pet food recalls had the effect of driving many pet parents to smaller brands known to use exclusively US food products, were organic, or were Kosher in an effort to save Sparky and Lulu from tainted or poor quality controlled foods.  Evanger’s applied for organic certification before the food recall debacle, uses fresh vegetables rather than dehydrated, and, where possible, keeps the buying within 40 miles of its plant.

I spoke with YiRan Liu at Evanger’s this morning and, when asked about nationwide availability, she offered that the Evanger’s dog and cat food site has a by zip code store locator available.   Orders have come in from as far afield as Poland and from a closer neighbor, Canada.  

For those of you who live in the Chicago area, Travis Thomas, an employee of Wigglyville Pet Boutique, 3337  N. Broadway, says Wigglyville will be holding it’s first Seder for furry friends this Saturday, April 11, from 6-8pm.  Reservations are not required, but BYOY is(bring your own yarmulke).  Dr Robert Uri Heller, a psychologist and professor at the Adler School of Professional Psychology who keeps Kosher and uses Evanger’s food for his dog, will lead the Seder so please arrive as close to 6 as possible (the dogs will then have ample time to settle down). 

Dogs and cats are truly part of our families and traditions, and are one great gift of joy in our lives.  And for those who may be a little uncomfortable with this, you might look at Seder for dogs as a mitzvah, a good deed!  See more on this story at the New York Times.

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