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Health Care Pioneer Teams Up with Son to Bring Pet Wants Franchise to Falls Church, VA

The importance of quality pet food resonated deeply with Laura Tartaro-McGowan and Ian McGowan, ardent pet parents to five dogs, affectionately referred to as "the squad."

Laura Tartaro-McGowan and her son Ian McGowan, the recent Pet Wants franchisees bringing the brand to Falls Church, Virginia, say that their decision to join the franchise comes down to one thing and one thing only: a deep love for furry friends everywhere. Their journey into the franchising realm began serendipitously after discovering Pet Wants' treats at a local farmer's market. The quality and health benefits of the products resonated deeply, as both Laura and Ian are ardent pet parents to a squad of five dogs, affectionately referred to as "the squad."

Laura's extensive career spanned from launching the first outpatient surgery center in Northern Virginia to becoming a clinical expert in home health care, volunteering for the Arlington Medical Reserve Corp during the covid pandemic and board member of DC Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation.  Ian has honed his skills in various retail roles; one being at the US Capitol and currently serving on the board of directors for D.C. Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation.  Now, Laura and Ian have brought together their unique backgrounds to serve the nutritional needs of pets in their community as business owners. 

At the heart of their enterprise is a commitment to support and nourish the bond between pets and their families. Recognizing their limitations in adopting more rescues themselves, they've channeled their love for dogs into their business, seeking to aid local shelters and provide for pets they can't house themselves.

1851 Franchise spoke with Laura and Ian to learn more about their passion-driven franchise journey, their decision to go with Pet Wants, their plans for the future and more. 

1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Laura: I have been caring for people as a nurse for over 40 years. During my career, I opened the first surgery center in Northern Virginia in the ‘80s, which focused on outpatient surgery, pre-surgical testing, anesthesia and postoperative care. Then I moved into a home health position, where I cared for patients for 19 years. After my own surgery I  became a clinical manager to continue as a caregiver by developing and mentoring  other clinicians.  My biggest accomplishment is being a mother of twins — Ian and Alyssa. Spending my time as director of development for DC Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation, traveling, enjoying family and friends.  

Ian: I spent the majority of my career in retail, working at a pool snack bar, a major food chain manager, luxury furniture store, and sunglasses supplier . I also worked at the US Capitol building in the gift shops.  Currently serving as Gold Ribbon Board Chair for  DC Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation. 

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Ian: I’ve always wanted to have my own business — it was my turn to own something. Franchising wasn’t really on the radar until we found Pet Wants. 

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Ian: I discovered their treats at a farmer’s market and was very excited about it. I brought it up to my mom. We collectively have five dogs in the family — the squad. Some of our dogs are overweight, and it was very important for us to maintain their health. We needed food that would not only get their attention, but would also be a healthier option than what they were used to. With Pet Wants, we didn’t have to feel so bad about giving them healthier food. 

Laura: After COVID, I was ready for something new. Since my son already had experience in retail, we knew we could succeed with Pet Wants. Our dogs loved the food — it was a way to tame the squad. Ian told me about Pet Wants. We talked to the franchise owner that we met at the farmer’s market, and we decided it could be a great next challenge for us. 

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Laura: Looking ahead, we want to open a storefront within a 12 month period, and within 18 months we will be expanding our territory within our region.  Also, we want to potentially start a mobile store in our area that we can take to events, dog parks, etc. Our main goal is to get this up and running, and then hopefully repeat the process with two or three stores in the next five years.

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

Ian: Every dog we have in the house is a rescue — those are our favorite breed. We want to continue helping out with local rescues, but there are only so many animals we can physically adopt. All of our houses are maxed out with dogs! So, we think Pet Wants will be a great way to help more dogs without fully taking them in.

Laura: Our family works together to make things happen, and this won’t be any different. We want to be successful and ensure our furry friends have the best nutrition they possibly can have. We treat our squad like family.  Pet Wants Falls Church where we put your pet first! 

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

Ian: Look for a franchise that you are passionate about and a franchisor who will support you on the backend. We chose Pet Wants because of all the additional support we got from the corporate team. When things come up, you have someone to turn to. 

To learn more about Pet Wants franchise opportunities, visit:

About Pet Wants

Pet Wants is a pet health and wellness company that strives to improve the nutrition, health, vitality, and well-being of pets. Founded in 2010, the brand’s specially crafted, private-label pet food formulas are made in small batches with fresh, natural ingredients complete with vitamins and minerals for a complete and balanced diet in every bowl, all made in the USA. Pet Wants has set a new standard in what you should expect in your pet food through their 140+ locations across the United States. To learn more about Pet Wants, visit  or follow Pet Wants on LinkedIn, @petwantsusa on Facebook, @petwants on Twitter and Instagram.