BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When you think about nutria, you're not thinking about dinner. And your dog probably isn't either, unless you're Hansel Harlan's dog.
"Once we had the idea for it we started playing with different recipes, basically out of a large kitchen at our house," said Harlan.
Harlan says when his dogs came down with allergies several years ago, he began making his own dog food out of chicken and turkey. Then when he heard of the benefits of nutria meat and the destruction nutria are causing to Louisiana wetlands, he hatched an idea.
"We knew that they were spending a lot of money down there to kill them," Harlan said. "So we were wondering if we could make them out of pet food or pet treats. And thus the idea was born."
He mixed nutria meat, brown rice, oats and molasses and came up with "Marsh Dog" nutria biscuits.
They're healthy, but the real test is how it tastes. Alexis Bratton had never heard of Marsh Dog treats, but her dog J.D. seemed to like them.
"No, I didn't even know what nutria meat really was," said Bratton.
Marsh Dog has been on store shelves all over south Louisiana for about a year now. And dogs have been eating it up.
"To be quite honest, we weren't sure whether it was going to work or not," said Harlan. "But the response has been literally overwhelming."
And it's not just biscuits. They actually have nutria jerky, that's even safe for humans to eat.
"It looks like it's better than high end dog food," said Dr. Emily Taylor of the Capital Heights Veterinary Clinic in Baton Rouge.
"I would not have any problem feeding nutria to my dogs," said Taylor who has been a veterinarian for 20 years.
If nutria isn't Louisiana enough for you Harlan let us on his secret ingredient, cayenne pepper.
"The dogs love it," said Harlan.
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