Hospital turns scraps into dog treats for Kokomo Humane Society

Photo of a dog. (WISH Photo)

KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — Community Howard Regional Health is transforming its leftover kitchen scraps into dog and cat treats for the Kokomo Humane Society.

Michelle Rhinaman, supervisor for the hospital cafeteria, says her kitchen director found the idea inside a culinary magazine. They checked with the board of health and even chemists at Purdue University to make sure the idea checked out for good animal digestion and then formulated their own recipe.

“We’re doing something with a product that would have been typical waste,” she said. “Giving it to animals that can use it. Makes you feel good.”

There’s a list of foods deemed not healthy for dogs including grapes, onions and nuts. Even without those, the kitchen reports 20 pounds of usable food prep scraps per day.

Employees combine fruit rinds, extra vegetables, even leftover meatloaf into a bin, put it through a grinder, puree it in a blender, add flour and roll it out like a dough. Then they use a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter to stamp out more than 100 treats per batch, put the tray in the oven for about 45 minutes, and then package the human-grade dog treats for Kokomo Humane.

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“It’s neat,” said Rhinaman. ‘We all got to go and see how the dogs reacted.”

Like humans, some animals are picky eaters, but Kokomo Humane employees say a majority of the dogs love the treats.

Kokomo Humane Society (WISH Photo)

“They reached out to us and it was really nice,” said Eddie Dietzen, outreach coordinator for the shelter.

Dietzen says treats are not in the budget for the Kokomo Humane Society, and they have to rely on donations.

“To have a steady supply coming on at all times, it’s wonderful,” he said.

Dietzen also said the treats are helping do more than just provide some extra calories for the animals; it’s making them more adoptable. His team has found a way to use the now seemingly endless supply of treats to help socialize less-friendly dogs.

“We can hang a bucket on their kennel and have everybody that comes through give them a treat, and then they see people are nice, people aren’t going to be mean to me, I get nice things when I’m nice to people,” he said.

Community Howard Regional didn’t leave out cats either. The edges of the treat bake are broken into smaller pieces and fed to the cats and kittens waiting to be adopted too.

“I wish we could do more to help their direction, but I don’t think they want us sending leftover dog food,” laughed Dietzen. “It helps morale to see for the staff here and volunteers to see the community supporting us.”

The two terrier/pitbull mix dogs featured in this story are named Timone and Pumba and are up for adoption. Contact the Kokomo Humane Society to learn more.

Those interested in learning more about Community Howard Regional’s scraps-to-treats program, contact Jennifer Yeakle at JStewart@ecommunity.com