2019 Best of the East Bay: Pets
Follow your animal instincts to treat-worthy people, places, and services.
Founder and CEO of Coast and Range
As a pet parent for most of his life, David Knoepfle was excited when he had the chance to transition from working in the human food industry to the pet food industry. “I saw the TV commercials and all the fancy ingredients and the dogs running on the beach with their tails wagging, and I thought, Gosh, what a great industry to be in,” he recalls. “I was horrified to find out it’s anything but.”
Not only was there a lack of regulation and dearth of quality in the food produced, but Knoepfle was also receiving reports that—despite people’s increasing willingness to pay more to feed their furry friends—the overall health of the pet population in the United States was in decline. To address the problem, he founded Coast and Range, a dog-food producer based in Danville that focuses on what animals really need: personalized high-quality, high-protein meals that are low in sugar and carbs.
“We’re feeding [dogs] the way they’re supposed to be fed,” Knoepfle says. “We don’t use any synthetic vitamins, minerals, or amino acids. We nourish our pets from nature. … A lot of our ingredients come from right here in the U.S.”
Knoepfle’s efforts have received overwhelming praise from customers, and he was honored by the Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group as a local game changer this March. But his biggest fan is Dharma, his loving black lab and Coast and Range’s official spokesdog, who often appears on the company’s Instagram at various East Bay locales to advocate for active living.
Favorite hike: Shell Ridge Open Space in Walnut Creek. “For those who are looking for an unbelievably fun hike with a pet, that’s the place to go,” Knoepfle says.
Favorite post-hike stop: Coffee Shop in Danville. “Their patio is super pet-friendly,” Knoepfle explains. “We love to sit and watch dog after dog come through.”
Favorite Friday night hangout: Fieldwork Brewing Company in San Ramon. “They did such a nice job with City Center Bishop Ranch, and the patio at Fieldwork is pet-friendly and incredibly accommodating,” says Knoepfle.
Dog Tired Adventures, Danville
Runner-up: House Calls Tri-Valley, multiple locations
Pet Supply Store
Pet Food Express, multiple locations
Runner-up: Petco, multiple locations
Animal Rescue Foundation, Walnut Creek
Runner-up: Tailored Dog Training, Concord
Share the Joy Photography, Lafayette
Runner-up: Ellen Shershow Photography, Oakland
ShamPooches, San Ramon
Runner-up: All Fur Love Grooming, Danville
Rescue Center for Hoppy Campers: East Bay Rabbit Rescue, Dublin
Everything is coming up rabbits at this organization staffed entirely by volunteers. While many other rescue centers focus on dogs or cats, East Bay Rabbit Rescue hones in on
bunnies, saving them from shelters in the Bay Area and placing more than 150 floppy-eared creatures in new homes every year. It hosts adoption events at the Amador Plaza PetSmart in Dublin every weekend; you can even bring in your own rabbit (as long as he or she is neutered or spayed) for “ bunny speed-dating” or to get a quick nail trim and grooming in exchange for a small donation. eastbayrabbit.org.
Insta-Famous Celebrity Pet: Rocco Thompson
Warriors guard Klay Thompson isn’t the only celeb in his household. His bulldog, Rocco, is a star in his own right. Rocco’s Instagram (which boasts more than 42,700 followers) shows pics of the jet-setting pup lounging poolside, frolicking at the beach, and posing with presents—nearly always accompanied by his best friend and owner. Rocco’s feed also features art drawn by adoring fans, including a stylistic reimagining of him as a Warriors player. Need more proof of his fame? Thompson’s championship bobblehead includes Rocco at his side. instagram.com/rocco.thompson.
Purrfect Comedy Show: Cat People, Oakland
Every third Saturday of the month, feline fanatics take over the Layover in Oakland for the stand-up comedy show Cat People. Billed as an event “for cat lovers by cat lovers,” the one-and-a-half-hour set will tickle your funny bone (and the free pizza will satisfy your appetite). Audience members can also compete in two cat-tastic competitions: the cat haiku battle and the meow-off. Host Juan Medina says the more passionate you are, the more likely you are to win the hearts (and votes) of the audience. oaklandlayover.com.
41,000 Dogs and cats that have found homes, thanks to the efforts of Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF)—this year’s awardee for Best Dog-Training Classes. It’s been nearly 30 years since La Russa established ARF to rescue pets from high-kill shelters, and the organization recently began offering classes for kittens at its Walnut Creek headquarters and announced plans to build a Pets and Vets Center to train rescue canines as psychiatric service dogs for veterans with PTSD. arflife.org.
Best in Show
Inject some style into your dog’s day out with these pup-pleasing products.
Illustrations by Roxanne Pasibe
Store treats and those extremely essential waste bags in a Fillmore Pouch from Oakland’s Molly Mutt. Choose from 11 snazzy designs (each named after a popular song), snap the small purse onto your leash, and stroll worry-free. mollymutt.com.
Reward your canine companion with the organic and yummy Lucy’s Short Stix from Bark Stix Inc. in Richmond. Made with all-natural, locally raised produce and meats, these snacks are rich in both flavor and health. barkstix.com.
Elevate your fetch game with George‘s Stick Plush Toy, an upgraded version of the wooden classic; this one may still get slobbery, but there’s no chance of breakage. Get yours at the beloved Berkeley retailer or the new San Ramon location. georgesf.com.
Dress Fido to impress with a handmade leather collar from Berkeley’s Paco Collars. These embellished masterpieces run the gamut from understated elegance to bedazzled glory, so there’s sure to be something to suit your pet’s personality. pacocollars.com.
Find an adorable leash at All Hounds Apparel in Crockett. These durable (and machine washable) six-foot-long tethers vary in intricacy, featuring everything from simple color-blocking to elaborate scenes with squirrels, acorns, and leaves. allhoundsapparel.com.