Reports of sick dogs, people, from pet food
• The VIN news service (news.vin.com) reports that six animals have been reported dead and more than 50 claimed to have been made ill by salmonella contamination in commercial pet foods made under various brand names by the Diamond company. The information was obtained from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration via a Freedom of Information Act request. Many of the foods have been recalled by the brands and the manufacturer. Meanwhile, DVM36.com reports the filing of a lawsuit against Diamond and retailer Costco charging that the contaminated pet food made a New Jersey infant severely ill.
• The U.S. Department of Agriculture is attempting to update its oversight of commercial pet breeders, including those substandard ones widely referred to as “puppy mills.” Current regulations developed before the widespread use of the Internet exempt pet stores from the Animal Welfare Act. Many commercial breeding operations now skip retail outlets to sell and ship animals directly to consumers, taking advantage of the loophole to avoid regulations intended to ensure humane treatment of breeding animals and the sale of healthy young ones. The requirements would affect operations with four or more breeding animals, a number intended to allow reputable hobby breeders to continue raising animals in their homes, among other exemptions. Comments are currently being accepted on the proposed changes at www.aphis.usda.gov.
• Celebrity dog trainer Cesar Millan is ending his phenomenally successful — and equally controversial — show when the current set of episodes has finished production. The “Dog Whisperer” has been successful both for Millan and for the Nat Geo WILD cable network, but the trainer’s use of physical correction for poorly mannered dogs has attracted widespread criticism from veterinary behaviorists and some training organizations. Concurrent with announcing the end of the “Dog Whisperer,” Millan revealed plans for a new series, “Leader of the Pack.”
— Gina Spadafori