Matt Hess is a dog breeder whose new product – a feeding station for motherless puppies and kittens – solved his own puppy feeding challenge.
"I had nine English Mastiff puppies who lost their mother due to mastitis (an infection)," says Hess, who lives in Southeastern Indiana. "I was feeding them one by one. By the time I finished with the last one, it was time to feed the first one again. I thought, 'There has got to be a easier way to do this.' "
The result is Hess' Pet Nursing Station
, which can feed three puppies or kittens at a time. The station securely holds baby bottles, attached to the back of a cradle where the animals lie, stomach down, to drink. The cradle is slightly angled and the puppies look up to suck their bottles.
"Once I created this system, it took me a half hour to feed the puppies," Hess says.
The Pet Nursing Station is for small- to large-breed puppies as well as kittens. It's designed for newborns to use up to four weeks old, or until they're weaned.
"It's designed to care for orphaned puppies or kittens if the mother has passed away, or, if for whatever reason, the mother doesn't produce enough milk. The Pet Nursing Station comes in as a temporary or full-time mother," Hess says.
Hess first used the station at home, then sent it to friends and acquaintances to further test. He received good feedback, and decided to start selling the stations in 2011. He, his mother and father make the metal stations in Hess' garage. He's working on a plastic mold for them, which will make the station lighter and more affordable.
"When I made the Pet Nursing Station, I didn't think it would go anywhere. After I shared it with friends, who said it was good idea, it kind of took off," he says.
He's sold the station to animal rescues, breeders and individual pet owners. He's talking to pet stores and catalog sellers to find a wider distribution for the product.
"We have one company who is interested but wants to see the product go further before they sell it," he says.
The Pet Nursing Station is one of the entries in the ongoing Cincinnati Innovates invention and business competition. You can see more ideas, or enter your own here
By Feoshia Henderson
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