Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Class Action Claims We've Been Misled About Contents of Pet Food

Note from me: Most everyone now knows pet food (and some human food as well) has been being slipped contaminated ingredients. If that bothered you, read on for the big shock waves. The following article isn't a pet-friendly resource, but I feel strongly enough about this issue that I'm devoting today's post to it. Please read this very carefully. Your fur child's food may be on this list. IMPORTANT: This is a different list than has been circulated lately regarding the pet food contamination crises. This list involves LOTS of companies and none of the information you're going to read here is very pretty - please prepare yourself.

Nationwide Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Pet Food Companies and Retailers
May 15, 2007

CONTACT: Russell Keith(305) 358-6555

Nationwide Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Pet Food Companies and Retailers For Misleading Consumers Regarding the Contents of Pet Food “Premium” Pet Food Marketed and Sold as “Complete and Balanced” Has Historically Contained Such Items as Euthanized Dogs and Cats, Restaurant Grease, Hair, Hooves, and Diseased Animals, and Other Inedible Garbage

MIAMI, FL -- May 15, 2007 -- A cat and dog owner from Michigan and two cat and dog owners from Florida have filed a nationwide class action against food industry giants Mars, Inc., Proctor and Gamble Co., Colgate Palmolive Company, Del Monte Foods, Co., and Nestle U.S.A. Inc. These manufacturers have a combined approximate 70% of the market share in the $16 billion dollar a year pet food industry. The suit also names as Defendants Nutro Products, Inc., Menu Foods, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Target Corp., Publix Supermarkets, Inc., Winn Dixie Stores, Inc., as manufacturers and marketers of their own brand pet food and retailers PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc., Pet Supermarket, Inc., and Petsmart Inc.

The Plaintiffs maintain that these companies have spent $300 million a year in making false and misleading marketing statements regarding the contents of their pet food to the dog and cat loving American public. While these Defendants tout their pet food products as choice cuts of prime beef, chunks of chicken, fish, fresh wholesome vegetables and whole grains to induce consumers to buy them, the Plaintiffs contend the food is actually made from “inedible” slaughterhouse waste products of the human food chain such as spines, heads, tails, hooves, hair, and blood. Rendering companies who process this waste have also added other inedible “waste” such as euthanized cats and dogs from veterinarian offices and animal shelters, road kill, zoo animals, rancid restaurant grease, toxic chemicals and additives. Additionally, dead animals and those declared unfit for human consumption due to disease and illness are also placed in the mix.

The lawsuit was filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida by attorney Catherine J. MacIvor of the 23 attorney Miami litigation law firm of Maltzman Foreman, PA. The case is pending before the Honorable Cecilia Altonaga. Class Counsel, Catherine J. MacIvor says that “The melamine debacle is not the only serious problem with pet food. The number and frequency of lethal pet food recalls in the last few years clearly shows the seriousness and extent of this problem.”

The lawsuit alleges that pet food companies market their products as wholesome, choice cuts of meat, natural and complete and balanced diets even though they are fully aware that this food is largely carbohydrates and sugars combined with toxic preservatives and additives with very little to no meat at all. The lawsuit seeks damages to consumers for the false representations made in the Defendants’ advertising as well as punitive damages.“Sadly,” MacIvor said, “the Defendant pet food companies and retailers recognized that American pet owners love their cats and dogs like members of their family. The Defendants deceptive advertising specifically marketed premium healthy food to the American public knowing that they want to buy the best food that they can for their loved one and knowing that the food consists largely of garbage, chemicals, additives, diseased meat and even residual pentobarbital from euthanized animals.”

The 58 page lawsuit outlines in grotesque detail the actual manner in which most commercial pet food in the United States is made. The lawsuit also attaches and cites numerous news stories and research articles outlining the real content of the Defendant’s pet foods and the misleading and deceptive advertising undertaken by the Defendants.The Defendants targeted in the Complaint produce pet foods under a wide array of brands and names including: Pedigree®, Sheba®, Goodlife Recipe®, Royal Canine, Iams®, Eukanuba®, Science Diet®, Prescription Diet®, 9 Lives®, Amore®, Gravy Train®, Kibbles-n-Bits® and Nature’s Recipe®, Snausages®, Milk Bone®, Pup-Peroni®, Meaty Bone®, Canine’s Carry Outs®, Jerky Treats®, Wagwells®, Alpo®, Beneful®, Beggin’ Strips®, Dog, Cat, Puppy and Kitten Chow®, Fancy Feast®, Friskies®, Mighty Dog®, Deli-Cat®, Pro Plan®, Purina One®, Natural Choice® Dog and Cat Products, Max® Dog Products, Max® Cat Gourmet Classics, Natural Choice® Complete Care® for cats, Ultra™ Products for dogs, Americas Choice Preferred Pets, Authority, Award, Best Choice, Big Bet, Big Red, Cadillac, Companion, Compliments, Demoulus Market Basket, Eukanuba, Fine Feline Cat, Food Lion, Food Town, Giant Companion, Hannaford, Hill Country Fare, Hy-Vee, Iams, J.E. Mondou, Laura Lynn, Li’l Red, Loving Meals, Medi-Cal, Meijer’s Main Choice, Mighty Dog Pouch, Mixables, Natural Life, Nutriplan, Nutro Max, Nutro Max Gourmet Classics, Nutro Natural Choice, Ol’ Roy, Paws, Pet Essentials, Pet Pride, President’s Choice, Price Chopper, Priority US, Publix, Roche Brothers, Save-a-Lot Special Blend, Schnucks, Science Diet Feline Savory Cuts Cans, Sophistacat, Special Kitty, Springfield Prize, Sprout, Stop and Shop Companion, Tops Companion, Wegmans, Weis Total Pet, Western family US, White Rose, Winn Dixie, Your Pet, LIFELong™, Ol’ Roy and Special Kitty brands of pet food.The lawsuit alleges, among other claims, that the pet food companies have fraudulently and/or negligently misrepresented and concealed what is actually in their pet foods, violated Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices, and Failed to Warn the public of the health risks to animals associated with a diet consisting of their commercial pet foods.

Through the lawsuit, the Plaintiff’s hope to recover financial damages for all pet owners who have been similarly deceived. “Ultimately we are hopeful that our lawsuit will force the Defendants to more accurately describe what is in their pet foods and to offer more healthful pet food options that provide pets with food quality similar to that provided in human food products.” A copy of the Complaint and supporting research materials is available at

For more information about Maltzman Foreman PA please visit

This article can be found online, until archived, at:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Bradford County shelter animals need help

A few days ago, I was contacted by a couple of people from a rescue group called Bradford County Paws (BC Paws), asking me to help get the word out about the situation with the animals in Bradford County, Florida. In a nut shell, this group, which has been working with the animals at the Bradford County Animal Shelter for a while, has lately been receiving a hard time when they go there to help.

The purpose of BC Paws is to assist the shelter with placing dogs in responsible foster and adoptive homes. While most counties would be delighted to have the assistance, I am told the Bradford County Sheriff's Office has stopped "on site adoptions." That means BC Paws don't have the chance to get the animals prepared for adoption. They just want to be allowed to help because they say the animals have a better chance of being adopted out when they are walked on a daily basis, bathed, in general, given the one-on-one attention they so desperately need.

BC Paws says they want their volunteers to be able to help the Bradford County Animal Shelter become more "rescue friendly." The group wants to see the shelter open more hours, both during the week and weekends. They want the volunteers inside, interacting with the animals. And while the county has been making a few improvements at the shelter, there are plenty of people who think there's a lot more work to be done.

Here's how you can help:

1) Sign the petition at "Bradford County, FL, Animal Shelter" .

2) Volunteer to work with the animals at the shelter.

3) Volunteer to become a foster family for an animal in need.

4) Adopt an animal in need from the Bradford County Animal Shelter

Contact Kristie at or call 904-334-7319 for more information about other needs the group may have, i.e., financial donations for veterinary expenses, supplies, cages and more.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Update on legislation dealing with pets in condos

Citizens for Pets in Condos 2007 legislative session wrap-up

By Maida Genser, Citizens for Pets in Condos

Okay, so we lost this round. The Emotional Support Animal bill never even came up for a vote. Short of getting it passed, I think it may actually be a good thing. It was not summarily dismissed. It was controversial enough to stay out there as an open question, no longer an automatic win for the condo board/condo lawyer lobby!

Here is the good news – our support is growing daily. This is a grass roots effort that went from nothing to almost 10,000 signatures by the start of this legislative season. We now have almost 13,500 signatures. As we get more people on our side our chances for future success are greatly increased. The anti-pet people represent old-think Florida. We are the future and we are in the right. WE WILL PREVAIL. Be assured of that.

Please send a thank you to Representative Julio Robaina for working so hard for our cause. Send copies to your own state-level representative*, and also to the co-sponsors (Reps. Luis Garcia, Yolly Roberson, and Priscilla Taylor) to thank them for working to try to pass HB 1373. Also send a thank you to Senator Alex Villalobos who sponsored S2816, the Senate version of the same bill, and send copies to your own state-level senator*. Click on the links for contact info.

If by any chance you are represented by Representatives Marcus Rubio, speaker of the house, Ellyn Bogdanoff, David Rivera, Ron Reagan, or Andy Gardiner, you may wish to contact them and tell them that you did not appreciate their stalling of HB1373 and you will take that into consideration the next time they run for public office. Representative Ralph Poppell was also a strong opponent and should be called out for his actions. And then, remember their interference next time they are up for office. Do NOT vote for them. As a non-profit corporation, we are not allowed to electioneer/campaign for candidates, but we are allowed to tell people not to vote people who are hurting our cause.

One of the things that I think will help our cause is to build an alliance with League of Humane Voters (LOHV). They are building a data base of contact information to reach out to people about all kinds of pro-animal issues. If you are on their mailing list, you WILL be informed about any animal legislation in Florida . I am considering giving them e-dresses from our mailing list, because helping them will definitely help us. If you have any objection, this is the time to let me know (so I can leave off YOUR e-dress). I will leave this open until the beginning of next month.

I truly believe that getting our message out will lead us to win. Even in no-pet condos, there are many people hiding pets in fear of being found out. If we can reach these people and get enough signatures, WE WILL WIN.

While the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and ASPCA and PETA have sorely let us down by choosing NOT to contact their membership about our bill, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) and Florida Pets Network/ DID contact a lot of people for us. Florida Pet Book helped us a lot by continuing to place our ads when we no longer had funds to advertise. Thank you, in general, to all of the collaborating organizations listed on our web site (scroll down a bit on the right side of our main page.) We owe a special thanks to Jan Bergemann and Cyber Citizens for Justice, the condo/HOA reform group that included our bill in their 2007 Community Association bill. If you feel so moved, please thank the people who helped us and send your notes of disapproval to those who did not.

Special honors go to David Shapiro, who joined our board when we became a non-profit corporation in July of 2006. We only had 1300 signatures when he became involved, and we now have well over ten times that many signatures, due to media ads that he personally subsidized and his other tireless efforts. Many thanks to our past board member Kandy Fancher and new board member Carlos Pineiro. Thanks to Barbara Feeney and Barry Silver for working on the wording of our bill. Thanks to Bobby Albre for sending out a press release. Thank you to reporter Jennifer Santiago for speaking up positively for our cause. Thanks to our friends in California who have given us guidance based on their experience getting laws changed in Calilfornia to allow pets in association-run housing. Thanks to the people who have made special efforts to collect signatures: David Shapiro, Carlos Pineiro , Ingrid Este vez, Loretta Hedberg , Laura Richman , Jean and Harry Bergman. Thanks to people who have been spokespersons to the media: David Shapiro, Bobby Albre, Jerry Zelligman, Mariela Rodrigues-Munn, Claudia Krysiak . If I am forgetting anyone, I deeply apologize.

As much as I hate to bring up money, your financial support will help us be able to advertise. David Shapiro and I have put a lot of our own money into this. You can make donations via PayPal to Getting the word out is the answer!

* Click here to find your Florida legislators by zipcode.

Old friends need to be together

Maida Genser's grassroots group,
Citizens for Pets in Condos, has been knocking.
The doors to the State Capital have opened.

IMPORTANT: Read previous entry, "Old Friends" first - this is a three-part story

Old friends need to be together

When the manager told Beetie about the new pet policy and that she'd have to find Buster a new home or face eviction from her condo, he couldn't look her in the eye. Just as well, thought Beetie, because her tears came fast and she'd always looked a fright when she cried and that would make her mad and then she'd talk too loud...

Beetie couldn't eat supper that evening. She just sat in the dark, petting Buster, wondering why the thought of living without a black cat with a white chin was just as sad as living without Leon. She decided to call the minister of her new church. Beetie wasn't an overly religious person but she liked the tidy little white building that housed the local Methodists. It was within walking distance, so when she moved to Florida she'd decided to make the effort and see how things developed.

The gentleman answered on the first ring, and said he was glad Beetie called and yes, he certainly did have a few moments for her. He insisted she call him Don. That seemed a bit informal to Beetie, but this was a new time, a new generation, and Beetie could go with the flow. As she sat there in the dark, talking to a man whose hand she had shaken no more than three times, to whom she'd never said more than hello, Beetie realized she just couldn't bear living without Buster. She was the only surviving daughter of four children born to parents long deceased. Her daughter, Kayla, was so far away and so very busy. Leo was probably looking down from Heaven with that look he'd get when someone said Buster was old or ugly. He would not have liked this mess, no, not one bit.

After listening to Beetie a bit, Don said she might be able to keep Buster and not have to move from her condo after all. Was he pulling her leg? No, he said, he'd heard of a law someone was trying to get passed that dealt with this very topic. He told her he'd make a couple of calls and ring her right back with some information.

As Beetie waited, Buster purred his way to sleep on her lap. Stroking her cat's soft fur, Beetie's heart felt heavy. She knew her heart was pumping OK because she'd just had a check up. It wasn't that kind of heavy anyway. Beetie suddenly realized it felt heavy because it was breaking. Without Buster, she would be totally alone and the sadness from before would return.

Don told her to get a pad and pencil and write down what he was about to tell her. House Bill 1373 was the bill he'd been talking about, he said. If passed, it would provide condominium residents - like Beetie - the right to have a companion animal (dog, cat, bird, etc.) live with them in their home, if a health professional stated the animal was helpful to the person’s physical or psychological well-being.

Beetie knew having Buster felt good. But the cat was also providing her with physical and psychological benefit because he was her only constant companion and petting him and playing an occasional game of twine chase did them both good. Beetie felt sure her heart doctor, Dr. Nehman, would write a letter for her and Don told her he'd write one for her too. Even though he wasn't a health professional, he was a soul professional, he said, and he could vouch for Buster being good for Beetie's soul. She thanked him profusely and hung up the phone, causing Buster to leap from her lap and head to the kitchen.

As Beetie fed Buster his supper, her heart didn't feel as heavy as before. She sighed. She knew she'd have to do a bit of leg work to make it all come together, but she did have 30 days, so she didn't have to be frantic. The force is with us, she told the cat whose head was hidden in his food bowl.
After all, the two loves of Leo's life had come this far together...

Old Friends

If you find a white hair on a black cat, you will have good luck.
- Old Welsh Superstition

Old Friends
A story, part 1 of 3

Beetie Gilman had spent nearly 20 years of her life in a classroom, teaching fractions and grammar to third graders. In 1989, she'd survived a heart attack, bypass surgery, her retirement party, and her husband's sudden death from a hunting accident.

After crying more tears than one ought to have to cry, Beetie sold the family home and most of her possessions and took herself, her meager savings, and Buster to Florida. It was nice for older folks there, said a friend who'd moved there years ago. It was warm and would be good for her heart, said her doctor. Beetie's daughter, Kayla, who lived an extremely busy life in California, the state of busy lives, figured Florida was about the same distance from California as New York and wouldn't affect the travel time for her yearly trip home too much. Kayla would tell her mom that the next time she called her, maybe next week, when she wasn't so busy.

Buster was Beetie's cat, well, really, Buster had been Leo's cat, but you know the ways of cats. They love the one who feeds them, heck, they'd love a grasshopper if it could figure out how to crack open a cat food can, so Beetie turned out to be OK with Buster. The two shared a quiet life now, one which Beetie hoped would grow a bit brighter, maybe a bit less sad, down in the southern sunshine.

Finding an attractive, affordable condo unit where Buster would be welcome too had been pretty easy, which helped Beetie feel immediately at home in Florida. The town she'd chose was mostly pastels and very shiny, with new shops, except down here they called them "shoppes", and plenty of heart specialists, podiatrists and banks. Services and activites for persons over 55 seemed to be a thriving industry all by itself.

Beetie met a couple other ladies her age and they lunched together frequently. She was thankful for the condo pool where she continued her water exercises, started during her previous cardiac rehab. She even began learning Bridge and hoped one day to be good enough for the condo Bridge Club. Buster had a sunny bay window from which he could perch and observe his world and let his aging bones soak up the warmth. Beetie still cried a bit after going to bed, some nights, not all. Basically, for the most part, she and Buster did OK.

Until someone noticed Buster stretching in his window seat one day and went to the condo office and carried on about their cat allergy. That seemed to remind several other folks in the condo about their cat allergies and so it began...and grew...on and on, until one day, the condo owner gave in to the whining and changed the condo pet policy to "none allowed."

The manager hated to tell the tenants with pets about the new policy as none of the pets had been problems, ever. He really dreaded telling Beetie, she was such a nice lady, a little frail and hard of hearing and that cat didn't bother anybody. But he had his orders. Beetie would be allowed 30 days to what they called, "rehome" Buster or she wouldn't be able to live in her condo any more.

Exploring Florida's pet-friendly lifestyle.

"A woman, her dog and the sea. This must be heaven."

As owner of, I meet so many interesting pets - and their people. We've all got one thing in common: the desire to find places in the sunshine state where pets are allowed. Places we can rest, play, swim, sing, vacation, dine, live, even worship together, where everyone is welcome.

"Pets are part of the family, so take them along!" That's the motto of While I post lots of information on the Web site and in our monthly eZine, the NewsPetter, I have so much more to share with all you pets and pet "peeps" (my word for people - you'll get used to seeing it!)

So snuggle up to the computer screen with your favorite companion animal and let's start exploring all that is pet-friendly in Florida. Your comments or questions will be appreciated and either I or one of my sassy little dachshunds will reply.