It all started with a family vacation to Maine.

“I have to say that being a single mom and raising two boys on my own, I never would have anticipated running a family-owned business with my boys – Ryan (27) and Kyle (23),” recalls Carol Plescia of Ramsey.

But, Plescia is doing just that. The owner of Acadia Antlers, “America’s favorite moose antler dog chew,” according to the company’s website, Plescia is living a blessed life.

“It is a blessing to be able to share this journey with my boys,” she said. “One of the most important things for me, as their mother, was to make sure they got a great college education (both Ryan and Kyle are Ramapo College graduates) and that they have a strong work ethic. Currently, the boys still are a big help to me, while pursuing their own career paths in the work force.”

While vacationing in Acadia, Maine, Plescia got the idea to start a moose antler dog chew company.

“We had one goal: to sell the highest quality, best tasting moose antler dog chews available across the country,” she said. “Since we were in Acadia, Maine, we decided on calling the company Acadia Antlers.”

Early on, Ryan and Kyle were skeptics, Plescia admits, but they decided to go for it, and it’s a good thing they did.

Over the course of seven years, Acadia Antlers are sold in upscale neighborhood pet boutiques and have been featured in BarkBox, a dog subscription box service, and on DoggyLoot, a sales site for dog owners that offers discounts on dog-related products to members nationwide. Currently, Acadia Antlers is sold across the country, thanks to their strong online website business that is driven by their loyal costumers and nationwide social media exposure and in stores such as TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods. Acadia Antlers has also been selected several times by The American Kennel Club Family Dog Magazine as one of their top product picks.

“Acadia Antlers is not just a job, it’s a constant adventure,” said Plescia, who still cuts every piece of antler they sell.

Plescia and Kyle traveled to Las Vegas to “pitch” Acadia Antlers directly to marketing guru and original Shark Tank “Shark” Kevin Harrington and fellow panelists at Super Zoo, a pet industry trade show. That pitch landed them a slot on Episode 6 of The Big Pitch, which aired in December of 2015 on the Fox Business Network, which goes to 80 million homes.

“We started out selling our moose antler dog chews at a roadside stand that was just minutes away from the entrance to the Acadia National Park,” said Plescia, reminiscing on her successes. “This gave us the tremendous opportunity to meet our customers personally and find out first-hand about their dogs’ chewing needs.”

Plescia learned dogs needed an all-natural healthy alternative chew that was low in calories and safe. Acadia Antlers are all-natural moose antler dog chews that are loaded with calcium and minerals. The long-lasting chews are durable and size-appropriate pieces hold up to power chewers when their “indestructible” toys do not.

“They’re non-splintering, hypo-allergenic and there is no mess or odor,” explains Plescia. “Dogs don’t chew through them; they gradually grind them down, so they serve as a great way to keep tartar and plaque off your dog’s teeth.”

Dog owners are perhaps familiar with rawhide, deer and elk chews. Rawhide, the most inexpensive offering, are typically filled with formaldehyde and sprayed with pesticides. They attribute to a higher rate of throat and mouth cancer in dogs, as well as being a choking hazard and causing blockages, said Plescia.

“Deer are the softest; elk is in the middle with porous marrow that the dogs dig out and moose is the densest so it is a much longer lasting chew,” she explained. “The best advice I can give is to research what you buy and to always supervise your pets while they are chewing. Always take any chew away from your dog when it is small enough to fit in their mouth, as it could become a choking hazard.”

Since Acadia Antlers are naturally shed Maine moose antlers, Plescia sees these as the best option.

“Many people don’t know that moose naturally shed their antlers every year in the wintertime and grow new,” she said. “Acadia Antlers are 100 percent cruelty free. No animals are harmed in the making of our chews. We do not buy antlers from hunted animals.

“We have worked hard to meet many of the shed gatherers in Maine and network across the state to be able to buy only the best quality Grade A antlers they can find,” continued Plescia. “Finding these sheds is a hard job that requires many, many people. Usually they start after the first snow falls. The leaves are covered with snow, and the tynes stick up and are easier to see. They hike the logging roads and travel deep into forests on ATVs and snowmobiles to gather them. Over the years, many have trained their dogs to help find them as well.”

Acadia Antlers recommends and sizes their antlers based on the weight of each dog. They offer sizes for dogs under 10 pounds all the way up to their most popular cuts – called Pitbull Pacifiers and Powerhouse Splits – for dogs over 70 pounds.

“I’ve been told that our Pitball Pacifiers have saved many living room sofas and shoes across the nation,” said Plescia of Acadia Antler’s product geared towards strong chewers.

Speaking of across the nation, United States Military Dogs from coast-to-coast and abroad are enjoying Acadia Antlers.

“Our family always believes it is important to give back,” said Plescia. “We work with great people – like Ron Aiello of the U.S. Working War Dogs, Frank Yevchak of Support Our Four-Legged Soldiers and groups like Tails of Hope Foundation – to get Acadia Antlers out to the working war dogs overseas in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

“We feel strongly that heroism should be recognized,” continued Plescia. “We have expanded our reach and now donate our antlers to retired military working dogs that are stateside as well and to police K-9s and other search and rescue dogs across the nation that work tirelessly to protect our citizens.”

Locally, Acadia Antlers are sold in Ramsey at Kathy Santo Dog Training, another small family-owned business.

“Small family businesses are the heart and soul of what this country was built on and we value that relationship,” said Plescia. “We’ve come a long way from our stand on the side of the road, and are proud to say Acadia Antlers are a great all-natural alternative to rawhide and other messy dog treats. Acadia Antlers loves America’s dogs like they are our own.”

For more information about Acadia Antlers, visit their website at www.acadiaantlers.com, become a fan of them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AcadiaAntlers, follow them on Instagram at @Acadia_Antlers or email them at acadia.partners@hotmail.com.

By Jessica Humphrey-Cintineo

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