Lexington woman's cancer journey leads her to make pet grooming products safer

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT)- The pet grooming industry is a multi-million dollar world, but do you really know what’s in the products you are using on your four-legged friends?

With little regulation, it's hard to know what is actually being used in the products you use on your cats and dogs.

One Lexington woman learned the hard way the toll chemicals can have on our pets when her beloved dog was diagnosed with cancer, but it was her own diagnosis that led her on a journey to make the pet grooming industry safer.

The pooches living with Melissa Boland's Lexington home have it pretty good.

As their human, she adores them and if you take one look around her home it’s evident just how many dogs have captured her heart over the years.

"They are just companions and they comfort and they seem to know exactly what to do and when to do it,” said Melissa Boland.

Bailey, Piper and Tobey take up residence with her now, but it's one pup, Henry Clay that was really a wag above the rest.

“I knew right away he was going to be a special dog,” said Boland.

Boland got Henry Clay she says at a time in her life when she needed him most.

Years later the two would share a similar journey and this furry friend would ultimately change how she cared for her dogs in the future.

“He actually got cancer first, he got cancer when he was 8-years-old and his vet felt like it was caused by exposure to environmental toxins,” said Boland.

Boland’s beloved dog died, sadly on the same day she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

During her long 22 months of treatment, Boland was forced to keep germs in the house to a minimum.

Boland says with more frequent baths she began to see the dogs itching a scratching more.

“I thought that I knew how to read labels and I thought I picked good products for them,” said Boland.

In her own life, Boland was turning to more organic and natural products.

She also began to take a good hard look at what she was using on the dogs and what she learned was surprising.

“There is zero regulation in the pet grooming industry, there is a tiny bit in the food part of it, but with grooming products, there is literally none,” said Boland.

After that discovery, the occupational therapist by trade developed her own products.

4 Legger is a line of organic and natural pet shampoos and products.

The very first product she launched was the Lemon Grass and Aloe dog shampoo.

On the heels of putting breast cancer behind her, Boland's line hit Amazon in 2015.

She says in its first six weeks it sold in every state and six countries.

"That was the market test and the verification for us to know that people want the best that they can get for their pets," said Boland.

4 Legger is certified by the National Organic Program and now has the full USDA seal.

“Our dogs are just subjected to whatever we choose to allow in their lives. So as the vision of 4 Legger began to emerge it meant that we had to do something different going forward,” said Boland.

Her line of products is now sold locally and globally.

"So millions of baths by now I’m sure, some dogs are happy about that and some not so,” said Boland.

And that Boland says is something to bark at!

With each bath from 4 Legger, this Boland hopes her products give other pet parents like her peace of mind that what they are using on their four-legged friend is safe.

Boland’s products are manufactured in New England but can be found here in Lexington at several stores, including Good Foods Co-Op, Earth Dog Spa and Apawthecary and Pet Wants-Lex as well as online.

As for her cancer, she is celebrating four years of being cancer-free.

For more on the products click here.

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