Springfield-produced pet product line building brand

Kickstarted by pandemic, PetAbilities hitting its stride.

You could say The Abilities Connection’s (TAC) new pet product line, PetAbilities, is getting a longer leash, so to speak.

What began as a way to put excess materials from its main product line to use has translated into more work for local people with disabilities and another option for quality pet products in the marketplace. The community can see and purchase various PetAbilities products at Thursday’s rescheduled Downtown DORA Night Series Dog Days of Summer event, 5-8 p.m. at City Hall Plaza.

“This is providing more employment opportunities and all products are made here at TAC in Springfield,” said Bridget Doane, TAC manager of commercial enterprises. “We’re very excited about being part of DORA.”

ExploreDeath of gunshot victim run over by Springfield cruiser ruled an accident

Already busy creating cargo nets for the U.S. Air Force for several years, TAC leadership was left with an abundance of leftover nylon strapping in 2018. Rather than scrapping it, the organization created Lead with Purpose Dog Leashes that were sold at a fundraiser and became popular.

ExploreMusic and Arts Festival returns to Clifton this weekend

While that was the beginning, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that kickstarted the actual line that grew to include cat products.

“People were adopting and rescuing pets during stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, so we were motivated to ramp up production and introduce new products,” Doane said.

The launch was soft, online at TAC’s website along with shopping platforms including Amazon and Walmart. The line was to be introduced locally a year ago at the initial DORA Dog Days of Summer event, which was canceled due to health concerns.

Besides online, PetAbilities products are available locally at Fresh Abilities, TAC’s quick-serve salad restaurant in COHatch, and Champion City Guide & Supply, both in downtown Springfield.

Alongside the leashes, which are available in various sizes and eight colors, PetAbilities offers Get Connected Dog Collars, which can match the leash’s color if desired, and TopChew Dog Toys that have a handle the owner can hold while the pet chews or tugs.

ExploreSummer Arts Festival pleased community, Arts Council

Adjustable cat collars are also offered, while pet owners can protect their clothes when bathing or grooming with the Groom Gown Apron, which has four utility pockets and is waterproof. Doane said in the competitive pet care market, PetAbilities products are up to the same military standards as its other product.

“We utilize the same manufacturing process as for the cargo nets for products that are extremely durable and long-lasting,” she said.

A future product being considered is a collar with a GPS tracker to keep track of pets should they wander.

With two successful product lines and a restaurant helping local people with disabilities make a contribution, TAC leadership is constantly exploring avenues to keep its employees working and creating beneficial goods, says Doane. She hopes DORA visitors stop by the PetAbilities display and appreciate what goes into them.

“This is a good opportunity to share with our community the value of people with disabilities and how this builds on their skills,” she said.

For more information on PetAbilities products, visit TAC’s website. For information on the Downtown DORA Summer Series Dog Days of Summer event, go to Visit Greater Springfield’s Facebook page.

About the Author