Burt Ward is in the business of keeping dogs healthier for longer.
The former actor — he played Robin in the 1960s TV series "Batman" — and co-creator of the large breed dog organization Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions has developed a high-end dog food line that he says nearly doubles the lives of the animals he shelters.
"We measure the success of our business in terms of life," Ward said as he sat near the pool of his home in Norco, which doubles as the nonprofit's location.
The average life span of a large-breed dog is about seven years, Ward said.
Until recently, Ward cared for a 21-year-old Great Dane, and still has 18-, 16-, and 14-year-old dogs running around his property with canines half their age.
Ward and wife Tracy, who helps him run the rescue, started producing Gentle Giants dog food about 18 months ago.
The food can only be found in grocery stores, such as Ralphs, in California. Ward decided to bypass all the boutique and chain pet stores, he said, to make the product more affordable and accessible.
It's working. His product has been on Stater Bros. shelves almost two years and Ward said sales have more than tripled.
Jack Brown, chairman and CEO of Stater Bros. Markets, confirmed that.
"It's very tough to get placement in a store," Brown said. "It must be a product we believe our customer will purchase and repurchase."
There are 45 to 50 dogs, ranging from 2 to 300 pounds, on Ward's property. They are fed his product daily from 16 large bags — or about 600 pounds.
The food has no fillers like corn or wheat, Ward said, and no added lard. It includes chicken, fish, eggs, nine vegetables, three fruits, four grains, vitamins and Glucosamine.
Ward believes in his product and is passionate about dog food quality.
"There is no dog food in the world that will accomplish what we've accomplished with our dogs," he said.
And he throws out a challenge to every dog owner.
"Compare our dog food to anybody's," Ward said.