Dogs and Cats Poisoned by Recent Recalls Forgotten, Total Number of Deaths Probably Never Known

 |  Jul 22nd 2007  |   4 Contributions


I feel terrible for the pet parents who lost their furbabies in the recalls earlier this year. First the horror of having your pet poisoned by the very company you trust to feed them. Then, they are insulted by having their dogs' and cats' deaths disappear from public attention and basically forgotten.

We can help keep the memories of those who died much too early alive. If we value the lives of all of out pets we MUST make sure these corporate crimes are not swept away from public memory! We must fight for safer foods and better labeling of country of origin so that those who callously taint food products can be identified and punished.

Thanks to Mike for meowing in this article from USA Today.

Pet-food death toll unlikely to be known

By Julie Schmit and Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY

The number of dogs and cats killed by contaminated pet food recalled this year will probably never be known, the Food and Drug Administration says.

The FDA received a record 18,000 consumer calls after the largest pet-food recall ever started in mid-March. Officials said in May about half alleged a pet death.


But tying a pet death to the food requires information such as test results from pets' tissue and blood samples, which the FDA doesn't have in most cases, it says.

"The sad truth is that we will probably never know with any confidence the number of animals that fell victim to the pet-food poisoning," says FDA spokeswoman Julie Zawisza.

In May, FDA official Michael Rogers told reporters the FDA expected to announce "in total the number of confirmed deaths associated with these recalled products."

Zawisza says Rogers based his comment on the best information at the time. The FDA did devote 400 people, a huge number for the agency, to monitor the recalls, collect food samples and take consumer reports. But unlike in human food-borne illness cases, there was no Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff to do the bulk of the investigation to link illnesses to products.

The FDA early on confirmed 16 pet deaths, but that number is meaningless because so many reports weren't investigated.

Three groups provide more insight about the death toll:

The American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, which includes 1,300 medical professionals, is analyzing about 400 cases, mostly of dead pets. The cases include lab results. About two-thirds involve cats. There's no way to know how many cases went unreported, says Barbara Powers, AAVLD president.

The Veterinary Information Network, which includes 20,000 veterinarians, received almost 1,500 death or illness reports from veterinarians, says Paul Pion, VIN president. VIN plans to follow 700 to 1,000 of those to see if medical data point to food. Pion says many cases probably went unreported. He and Powers estimate a death toll of at least 1,000.

Banfield, The Pet Hospital, a network of 620 hospitals, confirmed recall-related deaths of nine cats and two dogs out of 26 pets autopsied, says Nancy Zimmerman, senior medical adviser.

Pet-food ingredients were contaminated by melamine, a chemical added by Chinese manufacturers to make the ingredients seem more protein-rich. Most of the more than 100 types of recalled foods were made by Menu Foods.

Follow this link to read the rest of the article.

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