We want the best for our pets because, let’s face it, for most of us our pets are like family. The health and well being of our four-legged friends are solely our responsibility.
From the veterinarians that we choose to the food we buy at the store, our pets rely on us to make good choices for them.
But what happens when their health is put in danger from something that is supposed to be safe?
When Nikki Mael opened a can of dog food to share between her dogs, she never thought it would make them sick. But soon after the dogs ate the food, she was rushing to the veterinarian.
The dogs were suddenly desperately ill, having convulsions and falling down. Then she received the news that one of her furry family members had died.
Unsure of the cause, Mael sent the remaining food to a pathologist who discovered something shocking. A chemical was found in the food, a lethal chemical used to euthanize animals: pentobarbital.
Susan Thixton, a pet food consumer advocate and author, has spent years studying the pet food industry.
“Consumers have no information,” she said. “A consumer has to become a private detective to learn what’s really in their food.”
Mael had no way of knowing what her dogs were eating. She trusted the brand name and the company behind it.
WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., an ABC affiliate, decided to get to the bottom of it. They launched a research study to dig deep into what is really in our pet’s food. They made a startling discovery.
After testing many of the most popular bands of pet food, they found 60 percent tested positive for the drug pentobarbital.
J.M. Smucker Co. was one of the main companies at fault. In an announcement, the company began major recalls of the popular foods Gravy Train and Kibble ‘N Bits.
The company stated that the levels of the drug found in the food was not at a dangerous level and would not cause harm to pets. They added, “However, the presence of this substance at any level is not acceptable to us and not up to our quality standards.”
Of course, the big question is, how did a drug used to euthanize animals get into the pet food supply in the first place?
Kevin Hicks, founder of the lab that performed the research said, “I think you have a duty to understand what you’re selling to human beings and pets, and I think that the obligation is on you to understand what is, and is not, in your product.”
For now, Mael has lost her faith in the pet food industry. But the death of her beloved pet has not gone in vain. It has led to a new awareness and an obligation for pet food industries to be more diligent in their product processing.
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