Dog food recalled after pet owner's pug dies
It was supposed to be a festive treat for the four pugs — Tank, Tito, Tinkerbell and Talula.
But moments after Nikki Mael opened the can of "Hunk of Beef" dog food and fed it to her pets on New Year's Eve, she was rushing them to the emergency vet.
After they ate the dog food — within 15 minutes — they were acting drunk, they were running into the walls.- Nikki Mael, pug owner
Nikki Mael spoke with As it Happens guest host Helen Mann from Washougal, Washington. Here is part of their conversation.
Nikki Mael: After they ate the dog food — within 15 minutes — they were acting drunk, they were running into the walls and things like that. Their limbs were going limp. They weren't able to walk. Tito was having a seizure. And then I put them in the car and took them to the emergency vet. And by the time we got in there, they were just listless. They were still breathing, but they weren't responsive.
HM: Did you immediately suspect that it might be the food?
NM: Yes. I brought the can and the [veterinary staff] were all dumbfounded. They didn't think it would be the food and so they basically just treated them for a poison and they were in ICU overnight. Talula passed away. I was able to bring Tank and Tinkerbell home. And Tito had an extra day 'cause he was having seizures. That Sunday, my friend and I and my son took Talula up to OSU [Oregon State University] and they did a necropsy on her.
I couldn't believe that something I trusted would be the death of my dog. It was the scariest thing ever.- Nikki Mael
HM: Did they do a toxicology report?
NM: They did. That found the pentobarbital, an agent used to euthanize animals at their last stages of life. It's also used on death row. It was found in Talula's stomach. It was also found in the can itself and in unopened cans.
HM: What did you think when you saw that report?
HM: What do you know about how the pentobarbital could have made it into the dog food?
NM: They're not sure. They think that maybe [Evangers was] buying bad meat [from] euthanized animals and putting it in their food.
NM: No. If you look at their history, they've had several complaints against them. [It] should have never, ever left the factory because my dog would still be alive. The Food and Drug Administration is not done with their investigation as of yet. When they get done with their investigation, then we'll know more. I think that there needs to be regular testing on all the dog foods. They need to be going into every single dog food company, making sure everybody's in compliance.
HM: How has this affected what you feed your remaining dogs?
NM: I don't feed them dog food at all. I'm cooking for them.
This transcript has been edited for length and clarity. For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Nikki Mael.