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The Dog Blog

Celebrating 70 Years Of Doing Things Differently

Posted by Bob Kelly on Nov 16, 2017 1:42:19 PM

"There was a big need to come up with something better."

Bil-Jac Founder, Bill Kelly

Our father, Bill Kelly, began to develop a passion for animal nutrition on the farm in Ohio where he grew up.  He saw how different ingredients, and the way they were prepared together, could make a meaningful difference in the health of an animal.  When he went off to serve in the Army during WWII, this passion didn’t leave him, in fact it grew, when he was assigned to take care of the bomb-sniffing german shepherds. 

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After returning from the war, and newly married to our mother Ruth, he took his remaining $38 in army severance pay and started Bil-Jac with his brother, Jack.  Hence the company name:  Bil-Jac.  He knew in his heart there was a way to make dog food better. He didn’t set out to be different. He just saw a way to make animal nutrition better that just happened to be very different.

Bill developed the recipe for Bil-Jac Dog Food, one of the first to use meat as the main ingredient rather than cheaper vegetable proteins.  Bil-Jac Dog Food was so unique and different, it was the first dog food formula that earned a US patent.  What they created back then is still the basis for our Bil-Jac philosophy of nutrition.  Our three key principles for dog food were and are:

  1. Use a HIGH level of fresh (not frozen or dried) animal protein.  Bil·Jac uses fresh chicken, not frozen or dried, as the main ingredient in our dry dog food.  It’s widely accepted today that dogs are best fed as carnivores. What is so revolutionary about Bil-Jac is that we are able to use 25 pounds of fresh chicken to make every 30 pound bag of Adult Select Dry Dog Food.  We know of no other dry dog food that even comes close to using as much fresh chicken in their formula as we do.
  2. Create Bil·Jac Dog Food gently, in small batches, to help preserve the key nutrients.  We’ve developed a very special way to make Bil·Jac Dry Dog Food, where our small-batch, gentle Nutri-Lock™ slow cooking helps preserve key nutrients and essential amino acids. Nearly every other dry dog food on the market is cooked quickly using a high heat, high pressure process called extrusion which may damage amino acids. 
  3. Make it as delicious as can be for dogs. Good nutrition is important, but it won’t benefit your dog if your dog isn’t willing to eat it.  With Bil·Jac, outstanding taste and nutrition go hand in hand.  Fresh chicken, when slowly cooked, brings out the natural flavor dogs love.  Most all dry dog foods spray on either fat or flavor to get dogs to eat. At Bil-Jac, we know great taste can’t be sprayed onto food.  

From Ohio to the World

Everything you need to know about Bil-Jac was founded in those early years through the determination of Bill and Jack Kelly to do things a better way. Since 1947, Bil-Jac has fed thousands of champions and famous movie star dogs.  It has been the choice of winning breeders and trainers, alike, and has won countless taste tests conducted with dogs around the world.

But what we’re the most proud of is helping you and all of your dogs to thrive and live long healthy lives.  We’ve developed loyal customers, (some famous, most not).  We’ve fed millions of beloved family pets, and what makes us most proud is the difference we have made in their lives to grow and help our extended Bil-Jac family.  

70 years after the first bag of Bil-Jac was sold 

Today Bil-Jac remains a family business.  Making your dog’s food is our family’s passion … first by our father and uncle … then by my brothers and me … and now by our families. It is a passion we happily share today, with millions of dog lovers around the world. We answer only to our high standards and our canine customers, so we can continue to insist on the highest-quality and highest-nutritional values upon which our father and uncle built the business.  

Whenever I tell our story, it sounds like a story about our father and uncle, and to a large extent that is true.  However, no company as successful as Bil-Jac is really just the story of one or two people.  We would not be where we are today without the dedicated efforts of our Bil-Jac Team members and our many retail partners, too numerous to mention.  

Thank you for giving us the privilege of celebrating 70 years and we look forward to serving you and your family for the next 70 years.

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