Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Owner suspects tainted food in dogs’ deaths

June 27, 2007


Keri Collins thinks she's lost three dogs this year to the contaminated dog food scare. She has buried the dogs, seen in the photo at top, beneath a yucca plant in her yard. She's shown here holding a brother of the three.

Keri Collins thinks she's lost three dogs this year to the contaminated dog food scare. She has buried the dogs, seen in the photo at top, beneath a yucca plant in her yard. She's shown here holding a brother of the three.

Pictures of Keri Collins' three dogs recently lost because of contaminated food.

Pictures of Keri Collins' three dogs recently lost because of contaminated food.

Lawrence woman loses pets to contaminated food

A Lawrence woman joins a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturers of contaminated food. Enlarge video

Keri Collins has watched helplessly as one by one her Pomeranian Yorkshire terriers die of kidney failure.

She thinks the culprit is the tainted dog food that has broken the hearts of so many pet owners across the nation this year.

One dog died in January and the second one died in February.

"I was counting my blessings because I'd saved one dog, at least," the Lawrence woman said.

But her third dog died this month.

Last winter Collins bought some "wet" dog food from a grocery store to feed her 6- and 4-year-old female Yorkies. Normally the dogs eat dry food, but the softer food was preferable because the dogs were suffering from a bout of tonsillitis.

Soon the dogs started showing signs of a more serious illness. They were lethargic and they vomited.

Collins took them to Herschel Lewis, a Lawrence veterinarian. Blood tests showed their kidneys were failing.

In mid-March several dog and cat deaths nationwide were attributed to tainted food. FDA tests ultimately placed blame on melamine found in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate used in pet foods imported from China. Melamine is a chemical used to make plastic.

Collins thinks she bought one of the tainted brands because two of the dogs became ill not long after eating the food.

The third dog ate only "bits and pieces" of the tainted food, Collins said. That may account for the delay in noticeable symptoms of illness, Lewis said.

"Just because they eat it today it doesn't mean they are going to come down (ill) next week," the veterinarian said. "It could be six weeks or it could be six months."

But once those symptoms are noticed, death can come quickly, he said.

Even if symptoms of illness are caught early, it is difficult to save a dog from kidney failure, Lewis said.

"For you and I, they would put us on kidney dialysis and then put us on a transplant list," he said.

The deaths of Collins' first two dogs baffled Lewis before the publicity about the tainted dog food.

"Kidney failure is a fact of life and death in dogs, but these were really young dogs," he said. "It was very sudden."

Collins buried her dogs in her yard. She contacted a California law firm about joining a class-action lawsuit against distributors of the tainted food.

"Those were my kids and I'm devastated," Collins said of her dogs. "I'm upset because I think all of this was being swept under the rug and nobody was being told anything."

Lewis said he and other veterinarians are seeing more cases of chronic and acute kidney failure in dogs that have never been exposed to the tainted brands of food.

"I have no idea why that would be," he said. "It's just observation."

Collins hadn't planned to get another dog anytime soon. That changed last week when her stepson brought her a Chihuahua.

"When I heard she was headed to the (dog) pound, I had to keep her," she said.


common_cents 10 years, 7 months ago

I was just about to comment about this. I'm sorry she lost her pets, but I was told by the city that I had to either bury my pet out of town or have the city pick up my dead pet. Ms. Collins lives within city limits also, so I'm curious as to why this hasn't been brought up.

common_cents 10 years, 7 months ago

Something else to consider:

Pet foods are not the only items coming out of China which contain things hazardous to our health. It has been claimed (I'm still looking into the validity) that makeup products, such as finger nail polish, facial makeup, etc contain lead. In addition, it is also claimed that harmful protein fillers are also being used in certain foods which are being imported from China for human consumption.

As always, confirm for yourself. I'm going to be cautious until I can verify the validity of these claims, but I'm not going to take any chances until I can.

naturalist 10 years, 7 months ago

This is heartbreaking. Ms. Collins, you have my deepest sympathy for your loss. Our dogs are our family.

ramsrevenge 10 years, 7 months ago

Who listens to the city anyways? It's your yard, your pet, bury wherever you'd like Ms. Collins.

warthog 10 years, 7 months ago

Losing a pet is one of the hardest things one can experience. If burying her little guys in her back yard is a comfort to her, so be it. I was lucky that I have a brother with a large farm that we used for our dog last year. I don't think I could bear thinking that I just had the city pick him up and be nagged thinking of what they may have done to dispose of the body.

Good luck with that lawsuit, although, if it's like so many other class action suits, it will be the lawyers that get most of the money.

kmat 10 years, 7 months ago

It is illegal to bury your pets in your yard. That being said, do as I had to do a couple years ago and bury them on your property, just don't let the city see you do it.

As long as the city will let road kill sit on the streets until it completely rots, I'll bury my deceased pets where ever I want to on my property.

Crossfire 10 years, 7 months ago

How long before this poison enters the human food supply.

Staci Dark Simpson 10 years, 7 months ago

We've always buried our pets in our yard. BFD. Roadkill sits around so long I don't think it matters. They eventually decompose, thats more environmentally friendly than some of the other stuff that blows around town.

Julia Rose-Weston 10 years, 7 months ago

I am in total support of her burying her beloved "children" in her back yard, in a garden, where they feed the earth and live again in the plants that benefit from their bodies. I think it's a respectful way to say good bye to our 4 legged companions. My concern is the media advertised her burials and that the city will come after her. If they do, I hope the media advertises that as well. I think all of us who care about this should pitch in and help her pay any fines.
I believe it is legal to bury the cremated remains of pets on our own property. I have done this in the past. The fee to get the remains back is the difficult part. Anyone else know about the legality of burying cremated remains of animals?

Linda Endicott 10 years, 7 months ago

It's illegal in most cities to bury pets in your yard, though I don't know the reasoning behind it.

I don't see that it does any harm to anyone.

I don't know about cremated remains, but what possible harm could that do, either?

Steve Mechels 10 years, 7 months ago

Crossfire wrote "How long before this poison enters the human food supply."

It already has...this is the same problem with the counterfeit toothpastes. See

Emily Hadley 10 years, 7 months ago

This is so sad!

China or anywhere else, the further your money gets from home, the harder it is to see where it actually goes.

I won't buy anything that isn't certified as human grade. After finding a label that seems to be natural and safe, and checking for unwanted ingredients, I check out the company, find out where the food is produced, and inquire as much as I can about their sources. (Easier with human grade food because the list is much shorter--they don't need all the additives to make it seem like real food.)

In addition to the trouble from this tainted canned food, the quality of 'untainted' pet foods can literally cause their death. Since these creatures eat the exact same thing day in and day out and depend on us to look out for them, it seems worth the investment to find absolutely the best food you can. Then you can relax and just buy it.

I think this site gives a good introduction to what actually goes into pet grade pet food. It's awful.

Emily Hadley 10 years, 7 months ago

From that site above:

"The average dog can consume as much as 26 pounds of preservatives every year from eating commercial dog foods. "

!!! Holy crud !!!

Emily Hadley 10 years, 7 months ago

I love this brand. My cat's behavior and health improved dramatically when I started her on the Wellness dry food. Her personality actually changed; it was obvious that she was happier and felt better than she ever had on Iams, which I ignorantly bought for years.

After suffering for six months from a terrible reaction to antibiotics she needed after she was attacked, the wonderful folks at Natural Pet Food on 6th St. helped me switch her to a canned diet and she has literally been completely fine since, again happy and full of life and love. I had always refused canned food because as a kid, it seemed so gross and smelly, but this canned food is real food and, even being absolutely vegan in everything but my cat's food, it doesn't bother me to deal with their canned food everyday, especially seeing how much she likes it.

Right now I am checking out Newman's Own cat food for some possible variety. It is so nice to see more companies providing alternatives to the horrid industry that uses euthanized pets and cattle tumors as the meat in their pet food.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 10 years, 7 months ago

Keri, we almost lost our cat due to the Special Kitty brand cat food we bought at Walmart. Our vet bills were over $ 800, but she pulled through thanks to Dr. Brian Stancliffe of the Animal Clinic of North Topeka. There is an expensive IV treatment that can save some of these animals, it saved our cat. We are joining a class action lawsuit with a large firm in Chicago. Do not expect a call from Menu Foods, They are under a court order not to call anyone. If you want more info my yahoo messenger id is: Lynn731. You have our deepest sympathy. These animals are family members. For families like ours, that have no children, our lab and two cats are our children. Best Wishes. Thank you, Lynn

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 10 years, 7 months ago

As to where your animal goes: if you don't have it cremated or buried in a pet cemetery. The city puts it in a plastic bag and takes it to the landfill. At least that is what they do with all the poor animals they kill at the Helping Hands "Humane" Society in Topeka. Whose business is it where you bury your pet. Just another example of government piddling around in our private lives. They make silly laws to justify their existence. I mean what do they really do that is meaningful, besides try and control every aspect of our lives? The county is bad enough, no way would I live in a city with just another level of government. Thank you, Lynn

keridcollins 10 years, 7 months ago

I would like to thank all of you for the support. These dogs were my best friends. One thing that got left out of this story, is the fact that it was the Mama dog, Daddy dog and one of their eight puppies from two litters. These puppies were born in my room, raised in my room and they all went family members except two and I still keep tabs on all of them. Most of them come stay at "mammaw's" (my house) when their families go on vacations and such. Peachie never knew anything but our home and our yard. She was so trusting of me she was like a rag doll in my hands, she knew nothing else. Precious, (Mama dog) would still get a mouth full of dog food, take it to the carpet and still share it with the baby Peach, when they ate. For the first month after Peach died, she would still get a mouth of food and cry around the house looking for her baby. I had small piles of food everywhere. Then she moved to the yard and stared out looking for her and would not come back in the house. I'd have to go get her and bring her in. I seriously thought she was dying of a broken heart. two weeks later, she got to go take care of the baby. Then it was Pepper trying to figure out where his girls went. But they are together again, that's the only peace I have. I made so many crying trips to the vet, pleading to figure out what was wrong with them. I know it was three of the hardest nights I've ever had, not being able to help them. I knew something was wrong.

On a happy note, one of my friends had to go to Washington, her husband is working there for up to a year. Pejo, her puppy, the one I'm pictured with here and on the news, is staying with me gain. So I am getting to babysit one of my grand babies possibly for a year. It is helping my heart, but it is not the same.

Again, thanks for the support. I hope I don't get fined that wasn't the bases of this story. I lost members of my family, for nothing and that hurts.

I have adopted a chihuahua, four days before Pepper died. Someone was going to take her to the pound and I couldn't let it happen. I had too many openings at my house. She'll be a year old in a week. We named her Penny, she's copper colored. She's been neglected I think and she seems to like me well. She's coming around and I think she's been given some pionter from our friends above. She's sure keeping my lap warm.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 7 months ago

I am so sorry for the loss of your furry family.

I have lost so many animals (mostly cats, but a couple of dogs) over the years, that I vowed once I would never have another pet. It hurts too much when you lose them.

But here I am, with another cat...he's 8 now, and I've had him since he was a tiny baby. I had a big scare with the pet food recall recently, as he's on a type of Science Diet prescription food. I opened a new bag, and the same day he vomited about 8 times, and didn't want to eat any more of it.

But he turned out to be fine. Took him to the vet and had him checked out, and thank God his kidneys were okay...the vet said there was probably something in the food that he had a reaction to, though they don't know what. He's been okay since then.

You can never replace the ones you've lost, but your heart has the capacity to love so many different little furry individuals.

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