Lucy Pet: improving pet lives through health and service

With a pet products company and a foundation, Joey Herrick seeks to help animals live their healthiest lives.

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Lucy Pet Products and Lucy Pet Foundation Founder Joey Herrick aims to help pets live their best lives through health and nutrition. | Photo by the Lucy Pet Foundation
Lucy Pet Products and Lucy Pet Foundation Founder Joey Herrick aims to help pets live their best lives through health and nutrition. | Photo by the Lucy Pet Foundation

Lucy Pet Products Founder Joey Herrick knows a lot about pet food. As the co-founder (with late actor Dick Van Patten) and president of Natural Balance Pet Foods, he worked for 25 years to build the premium Natural Balance pet food line. Herrick’s goal was simple: to create pet food based on sound scientific principles and nutritional truths. It’s a goal Herrick would carry with him beyond his work at Natural Balance.

When he sold Natural Balance in 2013, Herrick decided he wasn’t even close to being done helping pets. He started the Lucy Pet Foundation that same year, putting his own money into operating mobile spay and neuter trucks in Southern California, USA, to provide low- or no-cost spay and neuter services. He also started Lucy Pet Products, a company that sells premium pet products to specialty pet stores in order to help fund the foundation.

“Our mission at Lucy Pet is simple and clear: to improve lives of animals,” says Herrick. “Our foundation has done over 16,000 free spay and neuter surgeries in low-income areas to help stop pet overpopulation. All of our products are developed with a purpose, to improve the health and lives of animals.”

Improving dog and cat lives through nutrition

Lucy Pet’s product lines include Lucy Pet Cats Incredible litter, and Lucy Pet shampoos and leave-in conditioners. But the lines that tap most into Herrick’s knowledge of pet health and nutrition are the Lucy Pet Formulas for Life dog and cat foods.


Lucy Pet Founder Joey Herrick, with star pets Ricky the Rescue Cat, Lucy the Rescue Dog (a Chihuahua mix) and Surfin’ Jack the Golden Retriever, uses his company’s success and his pets’ visibility to achieve the philanthropic goals his Foundation is known for. | Photo by the Lucy Pet Foundation

“I love all my pets and want them to be healthy and live as long as they possibly can,” says Herrick. “I started looking into what is missing in today’s diets for dogs and cats. I quickly realized that there are a lot of foods all saying the same thing in their marketing, so I started looking at it from a different point of view. I found a lot of information and studies around advancements in human health diets and knew this was where we needed to focus for dogs and cats.”

Herrick says that after he read human health studies about digestion and gut health, he decided that digestion was something that needed more attention in pets. Enter Dr. George C. Fahey, a leading expert on gut health and dietary fiber for both pets and people.

“It is a privilege to utilize his 40 years of research for our P.B.F Prebiotic Balanced Fiber blend, which brings breakthrough nutritional advancements for optimized digestion and gut health,” says Herrick. “Fahey’s research discovered that a diverse blend of prebiotics and fibers, in proper ratios, helps keep gut bacteria diversity flourishing and keeps the gut health on track, which is the first line of defense for immunity.”

The response to the food line has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Herrick. “When people hear about the science behind our P.B.F. Prebiotic Balanced Fiber, they understand the importance of gut health for the overall health of their dog or cat,” he says. “People like that Lucy Pet is so committed to putting the health of the animal first with all of our products.”

Supporting brick-and-mortar business as well as customers

“We have very strong partnerships with distributors and retailers in the US and around the world, which will make a huge difference in our growth,” says Herrick, who also says he grew up in the industry with brick-and-mortar pet specialty retailers and feels it’s important to support them with innovative products loyal to the channel.

“Brick-and-mortar retailers are facing significant challenges from e-commerce sites, which is making it very difficult to keep their customers coming through the front door,” he says. “Many of the leading food brands which drive the channel have expanded distribution outside of the channel, or are selling online at prices lower than the retailers can afford to compete. We need to help independent pet specialty brick-and-mortar retailers be successful. Retailers who partner with us will find a very loyal food brand with some exciting innovation in the pipeline to help them grow.”

The idea of creating and growing partnerships extends to pet owners, whom Herrick says just want the best for their pets.

“Our goal is to provide solutions to pet parents who are seeking a food brand they can trust for their dogs and cats,” says Herrick. “We also want to provide independent pet specialty retailers with a brand they can trust to remain loyal to the channel, to help them continue to thrive and grow for years to come.”

Herrick says that consumers are frustrated by brands they used to trust, who now seem to have cut quality and changed formulas. “Pet parents are smart and educated; they quickly recognize when quality declines, and with the internet today, it doesn’t take long for consumers to find out,” he says. “The opportunity is for brands who are fully transparent on quality, sourcing and why they use certain ingredients. Safety, testing and quality control continue to be paramount and Lucy Pet is fully committed to ensuring the highest safety and quality.”

Giving back and moving forward with Lucy Pet

Herrick says he believes that as a company becomes successful, it’s important to give back. “Over the past 30 years, I have donated millions of pounds of pet food to animal rescue groups,” he says. “It is my belief that they were the ones lowering euthanasia rates by going into shelters, taking animals off death row and putting them into foster care. After I sold my last company, I knew I wanted to give back, so I put US$2 million of my own money to form the Lucy Pet Foundation. I wanted to make a real difference in helping to reduce animal euthanasia rates in this country."


The California, USA-based Lucy Pet Foundation, with its mobile spay and neuter trucks, has grown to be a respected organization in the short time it’s been running. After two years, the city of Los Angeles awarded the Lucy Pet Foundation a multi-year spay and neuter contract to spay and neuter over 10,000 animals. | Photo by the Lucy Pet Foundation

“As an industry, we need to recognize that we all have a responsibility to help animals be healthier,” says Herrick. “It is also important that the products we make, whether consumables or hard goods, are manufactured with the health and safety of animals first, and not just focus on bottom-line profit. I made the decision that all our products must improve the health and lives of pets, or why bother. It is exciting to wake up every day and work with a team of people all passionate about helping animals.”



Philanthropy in the pet food industry

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