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Answers Pet Food Responds to Social Media Stir Set Off by Former Employee Billy Hoekman

The former Nutrition Science Director made a public exit and created a storm of speculation on social media.

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On Friday, (now former) Answers Pet Food Nutrition Science Director Billy Hoekman posted the following on Instagram.

The post went viral on social media, with retailers discussing the post and speculating as to what it means about the company and its much-loved products.

Answers Pet Food responded Monday morning with this release (you can download it here).

Re: Memo to ANSWERS Pet Food Business Partners, Distributors, Retail Stores, & Pet Owners

Dear Associates,

My name is Keith Hill, and I am President and CEO of Lystn, LLC d.b.a./ANSWERS Pet Food. While I am encouraged that our company continues to make life-changing differences in pets’ lives, I am also dismayed that disparaging misinformation has been spread to employees/workers and some suppliers, and now the perpetuation of the false narratives to our distributors, retail partners and pet owners.

Many of you know and associate with my wife, Jacqueline Hill, as well as other employees of the company on a routine basis with less familiarity of me because I work behind the scenes and am not directly involved in sales and marketing. Please understand that ANSWERS Pet Food is a family-owned company started with a group of passionate, individually talented, like-minded individuals coming together with the idea to change the pet food industry and pets’ lives. I am proud to say that for nearly 12 years, we have accomplished this goal as a symbiotic unit expanding on the ideas of fermentation, raw, high quality sourced ingredients, integrating environmentally friendly practices, and challenging the FDA to ensure the choice of healthy, truly raw products for all our pets. Unfortunately, personal, private matters, including the separation of Jacqueline and myself, have contributed to discord among the family and owners. Let me assure you that ANSWERS Pet Food remains committed to its core values, but in order for the company to continue to move forward with its mission, it is now necessary to bring clarity to the questions raised by these false narratives.

Foremost, Jacqueline and Roxanne are not being forced out of the company or being removed from leadership roles in the company. Jacqueline and Roxanne have requested voluntary transfer (sell out) of their ownership, which triggers contractual legal obligations. They have also decided to resign as employees and officers of the company. ANSWERS Pet Food has policies and practices in place to protect all classes of our employees and owners. From what I have seen, it appears some individuals have been engaging in the spread of misinformation, what I believe are inappropriate threats and demands and intentional disparagement of the company. While I believe most people are good and try to demonstrate, act in support of and fight for what they believe is justice, it is disappointing when such well-intended efforts actually cause more harm, making these supporters unknowingly complicit.

Yes, ANSWERS is experiencing shortages in supply of our products for reasons including COVID 19 and shortages of labor and raw material matters. However, the company is financially sound, and the inventory shortages are also due to growing demand for our products. Although Jacqueline and I are struggling through a divorce, the company will continue to manufacture and sell our wonderful products. I am respectfully requesting that everyone please respect our family’s privacy in this matter.

I implore you not to rush to judgement. I hope you will stand with the company as you have always done in the past.

With sincere gratitude and appreciation,

Keith A. Hill President & CEO

PETS+ has reached out to Hoekman and others at the company for further comment, and will report any new information as it becomes available.

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Pamela Mitchell is the Editor-in-Chief of PETS+. She works from her home office in Houston, TX, with Ty the Boston Terrier as her assistant.

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