June 17 2016

On a Rescue Mission with Found My Animal's Bethany Obrecht

New York

What do you do with the information that 2.7 million animals are euthanized in shelters every year? You do something about it, that’s what. Friends Bethany Obrecht and Anna Conway did just that. They started FOUND MY ANIMAL, a company that saves animals while simultaneously decking your pet out in the sharpest canine accessories. When you buy one of their nautical-inspired leashes, collars, and bowls for your adopted animal, not only are you spreading the message of #adoptdontshop, you’re also donating to hundreds of shelters both nationally and internationally that support animal adoption and rescue. 

To celebrate man's (and woman's) best friend, not only do dogs now stay for free at our hotels, we collaborated with FOUND MY ANIMAL on an exclusive line of products for our furry friends. The collection includes a handmade leash, collar, water bowl, and pouch, all in Standard red with custom solid brass tags, domestic waxed fabrics, and heavy-duty thread. You and your buddy are going to drool over them. The best part? 10% of proceeds will go toward animal adoption and rescue charities. Our collaboration is available at The Standard Shop, either online or at the brick-and-mortars at our hotels. 

We sat down with FOUND MY ANIMAL's founder Bethany Obrecht to talk about our joint rescue mission. 


The Standard
THE STANDARD: How did FOUND MY ANIMAL start?
BETHANY OBRECHT: It was actually really funny. I was walking my dog down on Atlantic Avenue, and I ran into this girl named Anna [Conway]. My dog was sniffing at her dog and we sparked a conversation about how there are so many shelter dogs in the system, and she gave me a few names of rescues. The funniest part was that both of our dogs were Chihuahuas named Walter. We just became fast friends after that initial introduction that our dogs started. It was one of those days I’ll never forget and it was such a life-changing experience. I truly believe it happened for a reason. Anna’s a painter—she’s actually painting now and she’s not a part of the business anymore, but we still maintain a very close friendship. The meaning behind what we’ve created together and why we wanted to do it in the first place are so important to me, and I try to make sure that we still carry that through every single day in everything we do here.
 
As the co-founder, how is it being so hands on?
I think Anna and I both were very controlling and detail-oriented and I think that shows in the products. It’s transformed itself into a collaborative. When you look around the studio, you’ll see we’re all working together on everything and our hands are on the products. They’re very massaged, and they’re all touched a million times, which is probably not the best business decision. [Laughs.] But it’s part of what we are. It makes our stuff so special.  




Looking around your studio now watching your whole team work, I’m in awe of how handmade your products really are.
They’re so handmade—everything is hand-dyed, hand-sewn, hand-polished here in studio. Each person here has their own hand in what we do. There are about 15 people’s hands on the product usually.

What were the design inspiration for the products?
Everything we do has conceptual meaning that goes with it. At the very beginning, we were very inspired by industrial components, but it was really the lifesaver and its nautical three-strand rope. [Writer’s note: She points to a bright orange lifesaver hanging in the corner of the studio.] We only use three-strand rope because it ties back to the rescue buoy. With the rescue buoy, we feel like that’s what we’re doing for dogs. Our mission is to rescue dogs and save lives.

Also, each number on our leashes represents how many we’ve made and how many people have joined our mission. That serves as a reminder for everybody on the leash. We decided that every season we would just change up the colors, but keep that basic fundamental reminder that this is a rescue mission. 

Where do you source your materials from?
We manufacture here and we domestically source most of our materials within a 200-mile radius around the city.
The Standard
The Standard
How many dogs do you have yourself?
Two American bulldogs, Henry the Chihuahua, and then Claude, the mutt that’s on the back of all the FOUND MY ANIMAL boxes.
 
What does it feel like to rescue an animal?
I rescued two American Bulldogs from Miami Dade Animal Services with the help of True and Faithful Pet Mission. The main reason was that we wanted to raise awareness for those groups and also to also bring more attention to what’s happening in Miami. So many dogs are euthanized on a monthly basis there.
 
When the dogs finally got here, the first thing I wanted to do was take off their shelter collars and put on FOUND MY ANIMAL collars. There’s something about that transition of bringing a shelter pet home, the commitment you make to saving that animal’s life, becoming companions, the act of putting on a beautifully decorated, good quality, and handmade collar on that dog—it’s a celebratory moment and it’s really special. It’s like, “Ah! You’re safe. You’re never going back to the shelter again.”
The Standard
The Standard
What has caring for rescue animals brought to your life?
There’s this feeling you get when you save a dog’s life—they look at you and you instantly know they appreciate that you’ve saved them. I feel like I’m going to cry because it’s such an amazing experience. It’s just so sad to me how many dogs are being put down every single day, and rescue is something that I really truly believe in. There are so many dogs out there that are loving, and they just want to be brought home.

We had a dog surrendered to us. The dog was 13 years old, and the woman adopted him when he was a puppy. She brought that dog over here, I kid you not, with all of his stuff—his brush, bowl, and leash—and she said, “If you don’t take him, I’m going to euthanize him, because I had a baby and my husband won’t let me have him.” And I said, “I can’t believe you’re going let this dog go. He spent his entire life with you. How do you think he feels?” and she left him here. So we worked together with The Dogist and Susie’s Senior Dogs and found that dog the most incredible home up in New Hampshire. It’s those stories of saving the dog and seeing just how you’re bringing love to a family—it’s unforgettable. 

What do you see for the future of your company?
I hope we continue to grow, become super efficient at what we do, and maintain beautiful products. I hope we can grow to a point where we can make more of an impact on a worldwide basis, and really be the forefront of what’s going on in the rescue community. Just lead by example, that’s what I hope to do. 
The Standard
The Standard
Writer
Elena Feldman
Photographer
Chris Leaman