Within minutes of sharing a can of Evanger's pet food among her five dogs, she was racing the lifeless animals to the emergency vet. "They were falling over. They were running into the walls. They were convulsing," said Mael. The vets told her they weren't sure what was going on, but that things didn't look good. Hours later, devastating news. Desperate for answers, the family sent the remainder of the food to a specialized lab and drove Talulah's lifeless body to a veterinary pathologist for a postmortem examination. "Poisoning from the dog food. That's what killed her," said Mael. But it wasn't just any poison. It was pentobarbital: A lethal drug, most commonly used to euthanize dogs, cats and some horses.
One possibility as to how pentobarbital is getting into food? Experts tell us animals that have been euthanized are picked up by renderers who process the carcasses - which may be blended into pet food.
In a 2004 report to Congress, sources for rendered materials were identified as, among other things, "dead animals from farms, animal shelters and other facilities."
Under federal law, these are adulterated ingredients.
Adulterated ingredients, which are defined partly as: "an animal which has died otherwise than by slaughter," are illegal in all food for humans and animals.
Yet in its own compliance policy, the FDA acknowledges it is violating the law and states: "pet food consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, which is in violation of 402(a)(5) ... will be considered fit for animal consumption."
"The FDA tells industry Yeah, it's a violation of law, but go ahead, we're not going to do anything,'" said Thixton.
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