Our Story

Like every small business, we have a story. That life-changing moment when we recognized a significant need in our community, and then realized we had just enough gumption to do something about it ourselves.

We didn’t grow up planning to start a healthy pet store. In fact, we spent a good 15 years building successful careers with other companies. We moved our family to Alpine, California for the same reasons most folks do. More land for our animals. More room to play in. The fresh mountain air. You name it.

The fact is, our love for animals is as strong as it gets. So when our new puppy Anna Belle wouldn’t eat commercial dog food, we knew something was up. We began to hear about the questionable ingredients in most commercial pet foods.  Shortly thereafter, our dog, Yuma, was diagnosed with cancer at the young age of 7. We began to wonder why, and found that inadequate nutrition could have played a key role in her terminal illness at such a young age.

Our next rescue dog, Shadow, suffered from constant itching, scratching and hot spots. Like many, we had no idea her constant skin irritation had to do with her food. We found she was allergic to most dog food and suffered from seasonal and environmental allergies.

Our work dog, Rhando had prostrate cancer at 6, and at 9, suffered from debilitating arthritis. Even our kitties were experiencing difficulty. Ticia has been diagnosed with a heart murmur. Tatters barely survived the diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease after three missed diagnoses, and invasive treatments were recommended.

We knew there had to be better answers than what the vets suggested – lifelong prescription medications, invasive treatments, living with the diseases and a shortened lifespan. We began looking towards the food we were feeding our pets as the common cause of their maladies. In researching the ingredients of the food — food found in nearly every major pet food chain in the U.S. — we were dumbfounded. Most commercially available dog and cat foods, marketed as the “highest quality,” actually contain low-quality proteins, filler carbohydrates and by-products designed to make the food as cheap to produce as possible. Worse yet, chemicals are used as a preservative.

We concluded this “junk food” was also making our pets sick. Thankfully, we also found more naturally derived foods for our pets. The blessing our Yuma left for us was the realization that better nutrition could significantly extend the lives of our pets.

That’s why we founded Natural Instincts Healthy Pet Center in 2008.  With the knowledge and experience we’ve gained through these very personal experiences, we hope we can help you help your pets live long, happy and vibrant lives.

First and foremost we are a company dedicated to educating pet owners to choose the most healthful ways to nourish their animals. We are far more than a pet store. We are safe haven for pets and the people who love them. And, we’re happy to report all our animals are doing well and we are grateful for every day we have with them.


Pack Leader

Samantha has always been drawn to helping people and making a difference. With a BS in Criminal Justice and MS in Forensic Science, Samantha is far from where she intended to be. She worked in the corporate world for 15 years, holding positions in human resources, government affairs, and corporate strategic philanthropy.

In writing her personal mission statement, it was a defining moment that her life needed to be about educating and inspiring pet owners to make good decisions about feeding and caring for their dogs and cats. Samantha’s love drives her passion for pets and the business behind the animals. In 2008, she founded Natural Instincts to help more animals live healthier and happy lives.

K9 Behavioral Specialist

Dan offers more than a decade of professional dog training experience. He founded Pawsitive Steps University to train happy dog owners the essentials of “pack mentality” and help them read their animal from a dog’s point of view. He has successfully trained hundreds of furry companions to feel self worth among their pack.

Dan’s training tools go beyond “sit”, “stay”, “heel” and focus more on “learn”, “teach” and “lead”.  He specializes in helping aggressive dogs heal and enjoys working with special needs dogs.