Do They Really Use Dead Dogs and Cats to Make Pet Food?

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The pet food industry has denied the rumors for years. Yet the reports just keep coming. They claim a number of companies continue to use euthanized pets to make dog food.

Sound impossible? Watch this short video and decide for yourself.

Portrait of a Shameless Industry

Unfortunately, there’s no date attached to this video. However, our research found Hersch Pendell was president of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) in 1998.

So, we must assume that year to be the approximate time of this interview.

In any case, the actual words spoken by the president of the pet food regulatory association are especially chilling.

And we’re still unable to locate any current regulation forbidding the use of euthanized pets in commercial dog food.

How to Avoid Products with the Highest Risk
of Containing Euthanized Pets

To avoid choosing a dog food that might contain dead cats and dogs, there’s only one way to minimize the risk…

Never buy any product made with an anonymous animal ingredient

By anonymous, we’re referring to meat-based ingredients that do not specify the source animal. They use vague terms like “meat meal” rather than more specific words like “chicken meal” to describe their components.

According to the pet food industry, meat can come from virtually any mammal1.

So, generic meat meal can be legally made from road kill, dead, diseased or dying farm animals — even euthanized cats and dogs.

Footnotes

  1. Official Publication, American Association of Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition, Section 9.3, p. 259
  • Skyelyte

    I don’t know why a few of my posts have been hung up for 3 months stating they are waiting approval by an Admin, but I will only repeat one point I made in them, and that is thanks Karl, I do have a STRONG background in science. I was at the top of all of my classes when I majored in Biology in college after I was accepted to a tier one college on a full scholarship 😛

  • Skyelyte

    I totally agree with you Laura Bean though I believe you meant that you are appalled that the FDA allows any euthanized animals to be in pet food. I was equally appalled. The FDA states clearly there is phentobarbitol in pet food and that should be a huge concern and certainly stated clearly on every pet food label. As it goes, if consumers are clearly informed there would not be many that would buy the garbage. Karl suggested going to the experts and getting information from peer reviewed work by experts. The problem with that is when any scientist becomes concerned about the huge negligence in the field and they express their concerns publicly about mega corporations that earn millions on the toxic waste in pet food they are ostracized and no longer accepted for peer reviewed writing/work. They are also blackballed in the scientific community and no longer receive funding from either corporations or government when their research or findings put either in a negative light and worse. There are scientists out there though that are brave enough to take a stand even at the expense of their reputation and I personally never listen to the scientists (small inner circle) when they will vehemently dispute a defector and usually say they are nuts.

    I make my own dog food and I definitely don’t add the toxic grains the food industry shovels into everything.

  • Laura Bean Wilson

    . “All samples from the most recent dog food survey (2000) that tested positive for pentobarbital, as well as a subset of samples that tested negative, were examined for the presence of remains derived from dogs or cats. The results demonstrated a complete absence of material that would have been derived from euthanized dogs or cats. The sensitivity of this method is 0.005% on a weight/weight basis; that is, the method can detect a minimum of 5 pounds of rendered remains in 50 tons of finished feed. Presently, it is assumed that the pentobarbital residues are entering pet foods from euthanized, rendered cattle or even horses.”

    THIS from the FDA site discussing “Rendered” meat used for dog & cat food.
    So pentobarbitol DOES in fact enter pet food. The FDA states this is from cows and horses, the likliest source.
    So, one only has to go to the FDA site to see THIS did tid bit of information as well.
    I’m appalled that FDA allows ANY animals to be used in pet food. ESPECIALLY diseased,
    Elderly, unclaimed and roadkill animals!
    This needs to stop. Right now.

  • anon101

    Not true.
    Excerpt from: http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2016/07/more-nonsense-from-holistic-vets-about-commercial-therapeutic-diets/
    Click on link for full article.
    2.Vets know nothing about nutrition-
    This is particularly hypocritical given that the claims made about the evils of commercial food and the virtues of alternative diets are generally made by—yup vets!— and these folks have no more training or expertise than the rest of us. In fact, the most reliable source of expertise on pet food are board-certified veterinary nutritionists, veterinarians with extensive training in nutrition. However, their claims are casually dismissed with innuendos or accusations about financial bias by vets who themselves make their living selling the stuff they advocate for.
    What do Vets Know about Nutrition?
    3. You can tell the quality of a food from reading the ingredients on the label-
    Sorry, you can’t. Partly this is the fault of regulators, who don’t require truly important information to be put on pet food labels in a clear and understandable way. And partly the uselessness of labels as a measure of food quality comes from the meaningless vagueness of the concept of “quality” and all the myths and misconceptions about specific ingredients promoted by these vets.

  • Andrew McMahon

    Vets don’t receive adaquate training on dog food or nutrition either. They actually receive that info from pet food companies…..

  • Skyelyte

    It is great that you teach this. I was a science major and I had exactly one professor that taught about the biases in so called scientific studies. I had a double major in psychology and it was my psych professor in a statistics for behavioral sciences course that taught this. Thus, exactly none of my professors taught this in the hard science courses. I am happy that you are one of the rare ones that do Davida. I can’t count the people I have talked to across my life including doctors, indeed scientists and 2 scientists here have done it, that is they either ignore the biases in (so called) scientific studies or worse defend them. This is a grave negligence in my opinion in the universities and it is very rare that it is taught. The fact that scientists in the field would even participate in a biased study honestly to me baffles the mind. Why use a scientist when it is not science at all when research is biased and flawed from the start 😉

    Let me correct this, of course all science majors are taught about biases but they are taught how they don’t belong in scientific studies at all. What is rare is that college professors even mention that biases in studies are rampant in the field of science.

  • Davida Xm

    I teach microbiology at a state university and I point out how many studies of germ content on fomites etc., are often funded by makers of Clorox or Lysol or Purell. I teach my students to consider the source. Don’t lump all professors together.

  • Davida Xm

    Per the report it’s not comprehensive, so euthanized pets may end up as food. – “Sampling was non-representative. Samples were purchased from retail outlets in the Laurel, MD, area. Only dry dog foods with certain animal-derived ingredients were sampled. This selection pattern meant that the samples were not representative of dog food nationwide or even locally. It also means that the data cannot be used to draw inferences about dog food being produced and sold in the U.S. today. The concentration of pentobarbital, if present in any U.S. pet food, may be different than the findings of these surveys. The results apply only to the specific lots analyzed.”

  • Skyelyte

    I thought you might have a reply aajjee so I waited to see if you did. I have thought about this discussion. One of my college majors is a bachelor in science. Thus, I am frankly pretty shocked that you state generally (I am paraphrasing) that corporations fund studies that favor them, which means if the research/study is not in their favor they won’t do it. That is flat out just not science. It is marketing. If a corporation discards the facts that are not in their favor there is just no way this can be considered a scientific study, I don’t care what level of education and how many credentials one has in the field of science. This is a lesson that is learned as a freshman in this field of study.

  • Nope. Wrong.

  • Deborah Sprenger

    gawwwd…i’d be sick for weeks if i watched it. after watching video of dogs being bludgeoned to death by savage chinese butchers, i know i can not take it emotionally. i’m so sorry for these poor creatures and sorry you had to witness that.

  • Skyelyte

    Here is another article about how the sugar companies have been committing this fraud for years in blaming cholesterol and fat for heart disease.

    http://time.com/4485710/sugar-industry-heart-disease-research/

    Of course, anyone that knows anything about simple biology knows that cholesterol, HDL, that is in fact burns fat. Fats don’t cause heart disease. It is the high sugar, high carb diets that the companies that sell these products have indeed dumped out research for many years that states exactly the opposite of what is true. Dr. Atkins was highly criticized in his time for coming out against the majority of the experts that did blame fat and cholesterol for heart disease (and other obesity related diseases). On the contrary, today there is a wealth of research and information to support Dr. Atkins position from roughly the 80s. Thus, again, how many Americans have died because they were falsely informed about a healthy diet for people and still die today because of it? I am sure you know that is an extremely high number. Thus, again, since this is a fact there surely is no reason at all to believe the corporations and or the experts they employ that state the pet food they sell is not harmful to our pets.

  • Skyelyte

    I just did a quick search to see if I can locate the information regarding the fact that the sugar companies did hire a team of researchers to basically say that sugar was not harmful. (I am going on something I read long ago now. So I don’t recall the specifics.). Here are a few links I found online that substantiate this fact.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/well/eat/how-the-sugar-industry-shifted-blame-to-fat.html?_r=0

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/13/493739074/50-years-ago-sugar-industry-quietly-paid-scientists-to-point-blame-at-fat

    So this is just one case where it was done. If we can’t trust research results in findings about the harm caused by products sold for human consumption, I certainly do not feel it is wise at all to simply trust companies that sell pet food.

  • Skyelyte

    Well, I agree with you in one respect and that is of course you are right that the word ‘always’ would be incorrect. I can think of an example off the top of my head. I don’t have the source at hand. I have done a lot of reading across a lot of years. Most of the sources I saved when I would get into debates and need them went down with an old computer. In any event, corporations that produce sugar hired a team of scientists I want to say in the 1950s to dump out research that contained in the results that sugar was not harmful. Of course, I am sure I don’t have to tell you that research was seriously flawed. I don’t know enough about the scientists that did the research to come to a decision about their integrity. Unfortunately, it is true though that professionals do spend a lot of money on education, and a lot of years and hard work attaining their credentials. So this goes back to what I said above and no they will not commit professional suicide when they work for a company that employs them to expose the company for research that is more than just flawed, but fraud when it is intentionally done to give their products a favorable result. I do stand corrected on the word ‘always’ though. 😉

  • aajjeee

    The corporation has an interest in the results AND are themselves convinced the results will be in their favor without the need of tampering. Where my money commes from wont change how i do the experiment nor how i record it. An unethical scientist could bend a borderline relult either way, but the overwhelming majority would not.

    The corporation dosent control the scientists because they fund them, its the scientists who can make wrong decisions, and they can do it wether funded by the organization or by a third party.

    Of course, as i said, it is a valid question of wether or not it is valid, but to say it is always invalidated is simply wrong.

  • Skyelyte

    P.S. I do believe there is a very obvious reason that universities fail to point out this fact and that is because corporations do employ a large number of scientists. Therefore, it goes without saying it would be an issue if scientists would dispute the validity of all the research that was paid for by corporations, again when the corporations have an interest in the results. I believe it is safe to say the corporations always will have an interest in the results or they wouldn’t fund it.

  • Skyelyte

    Well, you are not the first educated, credentialed person I have talked to in my life that doesn’t understand basic facts. Research absolutely can not be done objectively if the corporation that is paying for the research has an interest in the results. Thus, I will repeat, the results would then absolutely be invalid. As I stated, any science professor with integrity would teach this in every university. As a scientist, you should certainly know this.

  • aajjeee

    im a chemist, the results are the results, its certanly a concern, but in no case does it invalidate the results

  • Skyelyte

    LOL If you take one science class with a professor with any integrity at all, you will learn that is absolutely fact 😛

  • aajjeee

    I am sure I don’t have to tell you if the research/scientific study is funded by anyone, any corporation etc. that benefits from the findings/results then that research/scientific study is completely invalid

    this is very, very false

  • Skyelyte

    Oh yes, and last but not least, I do find it quite appalling that you seem to be to implying that it is alright for some Pentobarbital to be in pet food and you are comparing this to coffee. With all due respect, really? I hope I misunderstood what you stated and yes I do even understand complicated medical terminology, research etc though I admit I am a bit rusty but still I understand quite clearly it is absurd to compare coffee to Pentobarital. If you don’t think so I would love to sit down with you one day when I drink my pot of coffee for the day, or pot and a half and you match me on consuming that same quantity of Pentobarital 😉

  • Skyelyte

    I have a strong background in science. (Thanks) The best science professor I ever had taught how nearly every scientific study can be torn apart and more often than not you only have to go as far as following the money behind the research/study. I am sure I don’t have to tell you if the research/scientific study is funded by anyone, any corporation etc. that benefits from the findings/results then that research/scientific study is completely invalid. Case in point the companies that produce sugar have been paying scientists for many decades to dump out so called research/scientific studies that state that sugar is not harmful. I won’t write a formal paper and I am sure I don’t need to based on your education to tell you that the obesity epidemic in the U.S. proves otherwise. Yes, I know there are other factors. White flour, corn and wheat fillers etc etc etc and it is all the same. There are teams of scientists paid by corporations to spit out research that is self serving to the corporations to say the high carb diets that most Americans consume is healthy. On the contrary, it is lethal. In sum, no we can not trust what is reported just because it is stamped by a scientist or so called expert and/or a team of experts/scientists. Furthermore, corporations pay scientists to report to the FDA that their products are safe. Since this is an absolute fact for the foods that are reported as safe for humans to consume, absolutely this is true that we can not trust information that we are spoonfed (pun intended) by the companies that profit from these products that are sold as pet food. Indeed I have been educated and trained as a medical professional and the field is absolutely polluted with negligence and worse. As for the proof you are looking for, good luck with that. Any scientist that is interested in exposing the truth even about the toxicity to humans that follow the diet recommended by the USDAs Food Pyramid would be committing professional suicide and in the end, no one is insane enough to forfeit all of that hard work you have referenced to destroy their careers. The ones that do, are ostracized and indeed their careers are destroyed and that is quite convenient since then the ostracized scientist is not a respected source of anything. I am sure you see the problem with this. The fact that this is all true for facts concerning good nutrition for humans and that is we are lied to about the facts, I am sorry to say that we can not trust at all that without a great deal of research on our own we will ever know the facts about what is harmful to our pets. Lets be serious, we have been led to believe for decades and longer as a society that the average person is too stupid to understand how to take care of our pets nutritional needs so we are supposed to depend on corporations to do that for us. Indeed vets have been telling people this for years, that we should not feed our pets human food; it is not good for them; and they recommend a diet of who knows what is mashed up in a pet food can. It is positively absurd when we can be trusted to understand what to feed our children a nutritionally sound diet but not our pets. If this last point alone isn’t evidence of lying and fraud on a mass scale, then nothing is.

  • Shawn

    that test pertains specifically to the recalled dog food that contained pentobarbital. It was not a test of ALL dog food.

  • Karl

    Skyelyte, I’m going to point out what is misguided about your post. First, you wrote that Pentobarbital can only get into food from euthanized animals and pets, which is half true. Even the article you pointed to acknowledged that no cats or dogs were found through testing. Second, pentobarbital is NOT used EXCLUSIVELY for euthanasia; it’s also used an anti-convulsant/anesthetic. In small doses, pentobarbital is OK, and that’s why there’s a safe threshold. Look up the latest “Evangers” dog food recall. Why is this of a concern? Do you drink coffee/tea? In high doses caffeine can be harmful too. Lastly, if you cannot trust science to address these concerns then whom do you trust? Scientists spend years of their lives in school hoping to be part of larger research, and contribute to our understanding of the areas where they work. To assume that they ignore their moral compass because they work for a company is unfounded. Where’s the proof? Sure, you don’t need to be an “expert” to do your own research, but when the language and findings become complicated, it sure helps to have a strong background in science.

  • Skyelyte

    It is not feasible or affordable when food sold for human consumption comes from China? It is also a fact that some pet foods come from China. Though your claim is that it is not cost effective for pet food companies to attain euthanized pets from shelters in the US? Of course that is absurd when a person has to live under a rock to not know that much of what WE eat comes from other countries, and from clear across the world. Indeed it is collected by some middleman as you call it, after it is packaged, then it is shipped. So if you want to talk about cost effective, companies clearly found that purchasing from overseas is more cost effective than purchasing from American companies for just about anything you can think of that is sold and consumed in the U.S. Of course, it goes without saying that euthanized pets would be very cost effective for pet food companies since we certainly are talking about waste being sold and in this case the companies can get this extremely cheap meat product right here in the US. I am not sure how you can make a claim or take a position that this would be too cost prohibitive for a company because everything we know to be true completely refutes your claim 😛

  • Skyelyte

    Karl, you only have to go to the FDA website to see that the FDA does state that phenobarbitol is found in pet food and the only way it can get into pet food is via euthanized pets and animals. There are 2 extremely troubling things about this FDA page discussing phenobaritol in pet food. 1 is that the FDA did testing on dogs to determine the safety of phenobaritol in the diet of dogs. Second is the fact that any phenobaritol in pet food is acceptable and that use of euthanized pets/animals is legal at all is mind boggling. So here is your proof that dead cats and dogs ARE in pet food.
    https://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/centersoffices/officeoffoods/cvm/cvmfoiaelectronicreadingroom/ucm129131.htm

    Most important I don’t care how many scientists the food companies pay to report to the FDA that Pentobarbital is either safe or won’t harm our pets. The fact that it is in pet food at all is abhorrent and it is done with the full knowledge of the FDA. This should erode the trust of any reasonable person regarding the safety of commercial pet food. Last, I did say that food companies pay scientists to report their products are safe to the FDA because it is a fact this is done with food that is sold and consumed by people. I encourage you to do more research regarding the fact that many foods for people are not healthy or safe to eat. Thus, I do respectfully disagree with you that there is every reason to distrust the so called experts and everyone should do extensive research on the products that are in the food they consume and the products that are in pet food. I have taken my pets off of commercial dog food. It doesn’t take a formal education, an expert, or a genius to learn through research that there is every reason to not trust experts and this does include scientists that are paid for by the corporations that benefit by the findings of the research. Regarding the FDA when you dig through the information and all of their jargon you will also learn that the FDA does not regulate pet food. I encourage you to watch the documentary, Pet Fooled that is now airing on Netflix.

  • Karl

    Fortunately Debby, the world does know! It’s called being open to the actual research, conducted by actual experts. I have a podcast series called Pet Stuff (pilot episodes are free on iTunes), where I interview PhD veterinary experts and actively scour real, peer-reviewed studies from scientific journals. If you, or anyone else can point me to an independent review of dog food suppliers that objectively found dead cats and/or dogs in their ingredients, I will gladly eat my words and advocate for a change in the system. Thanks, best of luck.

  • Debby Sweet

    The world may never know!!!

  • Deb McCleary

    In denial much ?

  • Karl

    Sorry, but most of what you said doesn’t make sense or is just wrong. First off, Purina makes Friskies so they aren’t separate brands. Second, I was the manager of retail pet store chain while I was in school finishing a veterinary technology degree, and I can tell you pet store employees DO NOT receive any continuous or adequate training on nutrition. What is a filler anyway? Every company seems to define this differently. Nutrition is about body chemistry and nutrients, NOT INGREDIENTS. Define your ingredients by which purpose they serve. Liver, kidneys, and hearts are considered “by-products” but are generally understood to be highly nutritious. Go through DVM360 or veterinarypartner for info from the EXPERTS. That means BOARD-CERTIFIED nutritionists.

    Lastly, just because something is legal, doesn’t mean that’s what companies use. That would be a guaranteed way to go out of business. Seriously, does anyone really think there’s a truck going around picking up euthanized pets to bring them to the processing plant?

  • Shannon Hohlt Latzke

    #neverprescription

  • micadelphor

    Savvy comments . I loved the points – Does someone know if my company might get a template AQHA TRANS12-171 form to complete ?