Seattle lawyer hopes local victims might join class action
By AMY ROLPH P-I REPORTER
Source: Seattle PI
A Seattle lawyer has filed a class-action lawsuit in response to a nationwide pet food recall and growing concern over the potential health threat to thousands of pets.
"We've been getting swamped with calls and e-mails," said Tom Baisch, an attorney with the Seattle-based law firm Myers and Company, which filed the lawsuit Monday in federal court.
An Oregon man whose cat died two weeks ago is the only plaintiff in the lawsuit now, but Baisch said he hopes he soon will be able to add Washington victims.
A handful of other lawsuits have been filed in the United States and Canada against Menu Foods Ltd., based in a Toronto suburb. The lawsuits are expected to stir debate over the monetary value of beloved animals, and how much emotional hardship a pet owner stuffers when an animal dies.
Last week, Menu Foods recalled cans and pouches of pet food with gravy sold under brand names such as Iams, Eukanuba and retailers' own labels after linking pet deaths with the food.
So far, the Food and Drug Administration has officially tied the company to the deaths of 13 cats and one dog, but there have been widespread reports of kidney failure in pets, and many people contend that their animals died after eating the contaminated food.
The VCA Veterinary Specialty Center of Seattle and the Capitol Hill Animal Clinic are among the local clinics that suspect they've treated animals suffering from pet-food related illnesses.
Ann Brudvik, a veterinarian at Woodhaven Veterinary Clinic in Edmonds, hasn't treated any pets affected by the food, but she said the recall is causing a huge amount of concern for veterinarians.
Jacques Brunisholz of La Conner used to feed his dog Iams dry food, but the 9-year-old Bernese mountain dog got sick twice in the past two weeks. Although dry food isn't on the recall list, Brunisholz said he's not taking any chances.
"He has been his old happy self since he recovered last Friday, and we feed him only 'real foods' anymore," Brunisholz wrote in an e-mail.
Many local animal care workers have pointed out that it can be difficult to tell if an animal is sick because of contaminated food or another cause.
Menu Foods said Thursday it's no closer to confirming whether substances in its pet foods have actually caused animals to suffer kidney failure.
The company hired university scientists and independent laboratories to help it find out what is making animals ill, but tests have come up negative for a variety of potential causes, including heavy metals, mold and bacteria, Menu Foods spokesman Sam Bornstein said.
An FDA investigation focused on wheat gluten, but Menu Foods has declined to identify the suspect ingredient, and said a switch to a new supplier coincided with customers' complaints.
"We continue to test exhaustively all of the ingredients and the finished product," Bornstein said.
Separately, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is seeking criminal investigations of Menu Foods and of a Procter & Gamble Co. Iams brand factory to find out when they knew a Menu pet product might be harming pets.
Note: I added the bold to this article. I thought that part was the most interesting part of this article. Although this issue is completely wrong and unacceptable as well as any other event that causes harm to an animal it is exactly issues like this that get in the public eye that creates punishment and stricter punishment through laws and judges who pass down sentences to those who break the law. I hope that good does come out of this fucked up event and this company suffers a large financial penalty and the people who knew about this serves a lot of jail time. I value your opinions on this issue and have opened up a thread in the forums here: