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About Us: Drs. Foster & Smith History

Dr. Race Foster & Dr. Marty Smith
Thank you for helping us touch more lives than we could have ever imagined. Your trust, loyalty, feedback and kind recommendations to friends have helped us grow far beyond our expectations.
 
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Pre-1983
The Beginnings
Dr. Rory Foster and Dr. Marty Smith operated 4 Animal Hospitals in Northern Wisconsin. Their clinics were the first in the nation to offer free rabies vaccinations and free spay/neutering.

1983
The First Catalog
Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc., founded by brothers Dr. Rory Foster, Dr. Race Foster and partner Dr. Marty Smith distributed their first informational product catalog, a 16-page flyer sent to 1,500 customers.
See a sample of catalog covers through the years >

1985
Opens First Catalog Facility
The doctors move into their first facility dedicated exclusively to mail order pet supplies and catalog production.

1987
Dr. Rory Foster (1950-1987)
Co-Founder Dr. Rory Foster passes away from A.L.S./Lou Gehrig's Disease. Today, we donate thousands of dollars each year for research into cures for neuromuscular diseases such as A.L.S.

1991
Begins 24/7 Service
The company adds 3rd shift staff members to its operations, increasing customer service availability and reducing lead times.

1992
Builds Current Facility
To better serve their growing customer base, Dr. Race Foster & Dr. Marty Smith build and open their current warehouse and customer support facility.

1993
Launches Drs. Foster & Smith Brand Products
With the development and release of Vita-MinTabs, the doctors launch what would become the nation's leading veterinarian-formulated pet vitamin. As their product selection grows, the Drs. Foster & Smith brand name would soon become synonymous with superior quality products and excellent values. Today, the doctors' products are the preferred choice of our customers and include a diverse offering, including joint care supplements, dog and cat foods, dog beds, cat furniture, and many other pet care essentials.

1995
Writes the Book on Pet Health
International publisher Simon & Schuster, Inc. releases What's the Diagnosis?, the first of four veterinary handbooks for pet owners written by Drs. Foster & Smith.

1997
Expands Veterinary Staff
Keeping their growing business grounded in education, the doctors add a staff of veterinarians and specialists to help write articles, train Customer Service Agents, and provide backup for customer questions requiring medical or behavioral expertise.

1998-1999
Launches DrsFosterSmith.com & PetEducation.com
Taking their award-winning catalog to the internet, the doctors launch two information-rich websites back to back: DrsFosterSmith.com and its sister site, the free information source - PetEducation.com. Both web resources quickly earn national recognition from customers and educators alike.

2001
Becomes Nation's Largest & Most Comprehensive Pet Cataloger
With the purchase of Pet Warehouse and LiveAquaria.com, Drs. Foster & Smith expands its product lines to include essential supplies for small pets, reptiles, aquariums, birds, ponds and wild birds.

2002
Drs. Foster & Smith Brand Foods
As veterinarians, we firmly believe that your pet's good health starts from the inside out. That's why in 2002, we formulated our own healthy dog and cat foods with the wholesome, delicious ingredients you can rely on for optimal nutrition in every meal. Both pet foods have earned Top 10 Healthy Foods status from Whole Dog Journal.

2003
Opens Fully-Licensed Pharmacy
To help make pet care more affordable for all pet owners, we opened a full service pharmacy to fill prescriptions online or by mail-order. Unlike other online pet pharmacies, we pride our relationships with veterinarians and work closely with your pet's doctor to provide the best care possible for your companion.

2004
Cataloger of the year 2004 Catalog Success MagazineWins Consumer Cataloger of the Year Award
Drs. Foster & Smith was named 2004 Consumer Cataloger of the Year in Catalog Success magazine's annual awards issue for an outstanding customer service and education-rich pet catalogs. Highlighted in the issue were Drs. Foster & Smith's new full-service pet pharmacy, expanded warehouse, and state-of-the-art materials handling system.

2005
LiveAquaria.com Opens Aquaculture Coral Facility
Our cutting-edge facility employs the most sophisticated technology in lighting, filtration, water movement, and quarantine systems to ensure the hardiest and disease-free coral selection for home aquariums. Our aquatic experts, diagnostic specialists, and veterinarians personally oversee the health of each coral frag.

The facility opened its doors in the summer by hosting the first Drs. Foster & Smith Coral Conference & Frag Swap attended by over 200 reef hobbyists, exhibitors, and expert speakers.

2006
Honored Among "Best of the Web TOP 50"
Internet Retailer magazine, recognizing leading retail websites in their annual awards issue, highlighted Drs. Foster & Smith's website among the Best of the Web Top 50 online. DrsFosterSmith.com shared the spotlight with other leading websites like Amazon.com, Dell.com, BassProShops.com, iTunes.com, Nordstrom.com and Zappos.com. The editors found our online toy sound previews, video highlights, and "How To" pet care articles especially important in improving our customers' online shopping experience.

Coral Conference Doubles Attendance
Buoyed by an overwhelmingly positive response to its debut the year prior, the 2nd Annual Coral Conference welcomed over 300 guests, traders, and reef experts.

Owner Recognized for Educational Excellence
Dr. Race Foster was elected to the board of directors of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Michigan State University.

2007
Expands Pet Care Selection for Horses & Ferrets
Starting early 2007, Drs. Foster & Smith expanded its product offerings to include a comprehensive line of horse supplies and equine equipment. After nearly 25 years of selling supplies for dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles, and small pets, the nation's most trusted name in pet care was pleased to respond to customers' requests for healthy horse essentials as well. In May, Drs. Foster & Smith purchased Neeps, Inc.'s pet supply division. The sale involved numerous pet-related websites, including FerretStore.com, FerretFacts.com, and related forums, while expanding our small pet product & ferret line by over 600 items.

Dog Foods Awarded Whole Dog Journal's "Editor's Choice" Seal of Approval
Every year, the editors at the Whole Dog Journal evaluate the wide selection of dog foods available to consumers and select only the healthiest, 100% natural diets to name as a WDJ-Approved Dog Food. Drs. Foster & Smith Signature Series Dog Food is proud to be recognized as one of the top dog food brands and to share the same high standards concerning the nutritional health of companion pets.

Aquaculture Coral & Marine Life Facility Renovation
Three years after opening its doors, the aquaculture coral facility undergoes a $500,000 expansion to more than double its handling capacity. This allows LiveAquaria.com to offer an even wider selection of healthy fish, aquacultured corals, and clams for purchase online. In addition, the company's annual Coral Conference & Frag Swap, which hosted the grand opening of the center in 2005, witnessed record attendance, welcoming nearly 700 guests, traders, and expert speakers for the eagerly anticipated 3-day event.

DrsFosterSmith.com named Top 5 Websites for Customer Satisfaction
According to an independent survey of 20,000 online consumers conducted by ForeSee Results, Drs. Foster & Smith placed #5 out of 100 retail websites for overall customer satisfaction. While the average satisfaction index score among the top 100 sites was 74, customers rated DrsFosterSmih.com at a "superb" 81, placing the site in the Top 5 among superstars QVC.com, Netflix.com, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble.

2008
Drs. Foster and Smith Celebrates 25 Years in Business
February 15, 2008 marks the 25th anniversary of our articles of incorporation! Thank you for your trust and loyalty all these years - we could not have done it without you. Watch for specials and promotions running all year long as our way of saying thanks for your continued support.

"Faithful Friends" Television Show Premieres
A fun and informative 13-week series of 1/2-hour shows devoted to educating pet owners on how to care for their pets. Each week, Dr. Race Foster and Dr. Marty Smith invited special guests to offer important information for your large and small animals. With the help of additional veterinarians and animal expert guests, Faithful Friends provided support to pet parents on subjects including health, nutrition, behavior, travel, new and aged pets, horses, fish & coral, birds, and more. Each show highlighted segments supporting a weekly subject.

Dry Food Awarded Whole Dog Journal's "Editor's Choice" Seal of Approval for 6th Year Running
Once again the votes are in and Drs. Foster and Smith Signature Series Dry Dog Food has been awarded the Whole Dog Journal's "Editor's Choice" Seal of Approval. We are proud to say that our dry dog food has made the list every year since it was first formulated six years ago.

4th Annual Coral Conference and Frag Swap
Over 600 coral enthusiasts, reef clubs, frag traders, hobbyists, vendors, and employees helped make our 2008 Coral Conference and Frag Swap another memorable event. The new Friday night reception was a huge hit with attendees! Tables overflowed with free pizza, hobbyists, vendors and speakers, all gathering around getting to know one another. Over the 3-day event, eight expert speakers presented on topics covering the ins-and-outs of keeping reef aquariums, from setup and stocking to coral propagation and testing, including an overview of the chain of custody and environmental impact in the industry, and an introduction to coral pests and means of control.

 

2009
Launches Social Media Channels Pet owners finding community online are delighted to discover Drs. Foster and Smith there too sharing in the conversation. 2009 marked the launch of our coordinated social media presence, opening channels on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, reaching pet lovers worldwide with helpful information, deals, and plenty of "like"-able cuteness! In addition, we launched our DFS-Pet Blog, featuring stories written by pet lovers on our staff!

LiveAquaria.com Breeds Rare McCulloch's Clownfish Bred in Captivity for First Time in U.S.
When looking for one of the rarest Clownfish in the world, Northern Wisconsin is probably the last place you'd expect to find a spawning pair. But thanks to the expertise and conservation efforts of LiveAquaria.com Director Kevin Kohen, aquarium hobbyists will be seeing a lot more of these coveted clownfish in the coming years. Not only did the staff at Rhinelander's Drs. Foster and Smith Marine Life Facility successfully spawn a pair of McCulloch's Clownfish for the first time inside the U.S., they captured the incredible event on video! LiveAquaria.com continues to offer tank-bread McCulloch's Clownfish in their Diver's Den section of their website to this day.

Builds Video Studio/Launches Online Video Center
Responding to a growing demand for pet care information in an age of new media, Drs. Foster & Smith took the lead among pet supply websites and created a state-of-the-art HD video production studio for online produce reviews, veterinary how to videos, feature segments and more. You can browse our entire library of helpful clips in our Video Center, featuring topics covering everything from aquarium setup, to attracting more wild birds!

2010
Drs. Foster and Smith Goes GREEN!
At Drs. Foster and Smith we care about your satisfaction - but we also care about the environment. In fact, we all know that a cleaner world equals a better life for you, your family, and your pets. That's why we've committed to taking an active approach to environmental issues. Recycled, organic, renewable or biodegradable - more and more of the products we offer are now made with the earth in mind. From starch packing peanuts that dissolve in water, to 75% recycled cardboard shipping boxes, we're doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint and help create a more sustainable world for your family's future.

National Pet Vaccination Initiative
Did you know that only 50% of dogs and a mere 40% of cats are vaccinated against preventable diseases like distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis and feline leukemia? In effort to make these essential vaccinations more affordable, Drs. Foster & Smith launched a national vaccination initiative in 2010, helping teach pet owners how to do their own vaccinations at home for a fraction of the price!

Aquaculture Coral & Marine Life Facility Offers Open Houses
Now anybody can take a sneak peek behind the scenes at the Midwest's most amazing aquaculture facility! Each Open House begins with a 45 minute behind-the-scenes tour. Topics covered during this informative guided tour include: filtration equipment and an explanation of its functions, details regarding our fish, coral, and invertebrate holding systems, as well as our extensive quarantine and conditioning procedures. The best part is that those with saltwater aquariums are offered their chance to buy directly from the Diver's Den section of the Coral Farm! Raffle prizes are given away, as well as tons of great advice.

Products Featured in "The Dogfather" Movie
While product placement in movies and TV shows is common, supplying bags of private-label dog food was a rare event for Drs. Foster and Smith. "We get called on a regular basis regarding product placement opportunities and have occasionally provided products for movies like 'Get Smart' and 'UnderDog,' says Internet Marketing and Media Manager Gordon Magee. "We don't say yes very often, but we knew that we'd get appropriate placement and we did."

Online Pet Pharmacy Earns Vet-Vipps
Drs. Foster and Smith's Pet Pharmacy is one of the first veterinary pharmacies nationwide to receive Vet-Vipps. Drs. Foster and Smith successfully completed the rigorous accreditation process by demonstrating the professional operations of the pharmacy, including the maintenance of policies and procedures that protect the veterinarian-client-patient relationship, ensure the appropriate handling of prescription medications, provide appropriate medication information, and ensure quality pharmacy practices are continuously offered to our clients.

Drs. Foster and Smith Blogs from Westminster Dog Show
Matt Stelter, an employee who also is a dog breeder and an American Kennel Club-certified judge, traveled to Westminster in 2010 to write about the dog show and take photos and videos. Stelter sent his observations, video clips and photos to Drs. Foster and Smith headquarters where the content was posted to the company's blog and to its Facebook site.

2011
DrsFosterSmith.com Launches Kids Learning Center
Helping the whole family care for the pets they love has been central to our mission from the beginning. What better way than to present our best expert pet advice as fun games, activities and trivia for kids? In 2011 DrsFosterSmith.com launched its Kids Learning Center featuring Dogville, Kitty Corner, Backyard Kids for birdwatchers, Fish Friends, Small Pet Activity Hut, and Bird Brains.

Veterinarians Stream Live Pet Health News on Healthradio.net
When HealthRadio.net launched their Pet Health Radio segments, they tapped Drs. Foster and Smith's team of veterinarians for live streaming interviews, discussions, and listener call-in questions. These informative feature segments, covering everything from pet anxiety to what causes Lyme Disease, ran weekly until mid-2012, and are currently archived on Healthradio.net.

Drs. Foster and Smith Video Studio Streams Live 4-hour Webcasts
Kicking off the holiday shopping season to unprecedented heights, Drs. Foster and Smith produced TWO 4-hour live streaming webcasts broadcast back to back on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The fun and informative programs combined expert pet tips with rock-bottom deals and prizes for the scores of viewers who watched and won.

2012

Now Shipping to Canada!
We're delighted to welcome Canadian customers to our online family! You've been asking, we've been listening: Ground shipping and online ordering of a select line of affordable home pet care products is now available to our northern neighbors.

BizRate Circle of Excellence Award Drs. Foster & Smith Earns 2012 Bizrate® Circle of Excellence Award
This annual award recognizes those online retailers that have provided outstanding online customer experiences as rated by their own customers. This year, 94 online retailers received this Award, representing only 1.8% of all online retailers within the Bizrate Insights North American Retailer Network of over 5,200 retailers for the 2012 award year. DrsFosterSmith.com was praised for its dedication to providing top notch online customer experiences, consistently collecting customer feedback, and earning exceptional customer satisfaction ratings throughout the award year.

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Major Coral Farm expansion announced late 2012! Details to come...

 



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