Continuing an ongoing series of conversations with people who are truly making a difference in the lives of animals, I interviewed Sarah Gross, Founder of Rescue Chocolate. Rescue Chocolate is “the sweetest way to save a life!” From each chocolate purchased, 100% of the net profits are donated to animal rescue organizations around the country. The packaging of each vegan flavor of Rescue Chocolate sheds light on a different aspect of the current pet “overpopulation” epidemic. Current flavors include: Peanut Butter Pit Bull (countering the negative image of the pit bull-type dogs), Pick Me! Pepper (highlighting the advantages of choosing pets from animal shelters instead of breeders or pet stores), and Foster-iffic Peppermint (highlighting the need for people to provide foster care for shelter animals as they await their forever homes).
I love your chocolate and I was eating it the other day at the Vegetarian Food Festival. I thought it would be great to speak with you and share your story with our readers. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with Rescue Chocolate?
A little over two years ago I adopted a pit bull named Mocha. It was at a time when I wasn’t even expecting to have a dog. I lived with roommates, but I saw her picture on one of my friend’s Facebook page, and although I normally would have thought “oh that’s cute but I can’t have a dog”, Mocha’s picture just really called to me. I had to keep going back to it. I tracked her down and met her and it was love at first sight, so I adopted her.
It was during a period of time when I was getting really into chocolate. I’d have chocolate every day for breakfast – and then take Mocha to the park. One day I thought of the words “Recue Chocolate”, and the whole idea formulated while I was walking her: to sell chocolate to raise money for animal rescue groups with each flavor highlighting different rescue issues to raise awareness about ways that people can help.
So you were already into chocolate – would you say chocolate was your passion at that time?
Yeah, it was. It’s always been animals my whole life, and chocolate was the new pleasure I was enjoying every day, exploring and figuring out all the intricacies and complexities of it.
Were you doing dark chocolate because you were already vegan or did you become vegan later?
I’ve been a vegan for about 14 years, and a vegetarian for a few years before that. Initially it just came from my love of animals. But after learning about factory farming I became a vegan, so there was no question that all Rescue Chocolate would be all vegan.
How do you choose the organizations?
Every month we pick a different group to donate to. I have a big list of groups for future months’ consideration, but we pick groups all over the country that are doing really good programs and who are active in the community.
Do you come up with all the names for the products yourself?
I did. I took the issues that I knew to be the most important in animal rescue like our flavor called the Fix is about spaying and neutering, it’s a plain dark chocolate bar. That came in a moment of chocolate creativity – you get a chocolate fix and give back.
Are you planning on expanding your business?
We definitely want to expand. We want to be everywhere and easy to find in major grocery stores and convenience stores. Eventually I’d love to make a line of dog treats with carob. And new flavors for humans, too, here and there. Definitely in the works.
When you were looking at Mocha, had you any concerns about adopting a pit bull? Had you had pit bulls before? Were you worried about any of the myths?
I’d never had a pit bull before. I’d had mixes growing up, so probably one of my dogs was a pit-mix. I really didn’t have the right perception about pit bulls, and I think most of the public has the perception I used to have. Now I couldn’t be a bigger champion for them because I see how much loyalty and love they give you, and it’s all about how the owners are treating them and training them.
Yeah, the whole myth about pit bulls is crazy in the dog world, as well as everywhere else. They have such a bad reputation. It’s one of the challenges in rescue to get people to see pit bulls and any of the other bully breeds in a more positive way.
What’s the best thing about the work you do?
The best thing is that I get to do what I’m most passionate about. I can’t complain about working with chocolate and helping to educate the public about the issue I feel strongest about, which is how we’re killing 4 million healthy animals a year and it can be prevented. I love that I can spread the word this way.
Is there one thing you’d like to share with our readers about what you do beyond what we’ve spoken about?
I would just encourage everyone who is thinking about getting a dog, that any kind of breed they are looking for can be found in a rescue or a shelter.
You have an amazing story. It’s so great to see someone who has found a path that marries together all the things they love and to be successful at the same time and give away all you do. It’s a really inspiring story. Whenever I go to your site it always makes me smile because it’s someone doing something really great.
Click here to visit Rescue Chocolate.