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  • Mike Fry

Soylent Pets - What's in Your Pet Food

Transcript of the above video:

Ah, yes, the dramatic final moments of the classic post-apocalyptic science fiction thriller, Soylent Green, released in 1973 and staring Charlton Heston…

Recent news from the pet food industry has had me thinking of that movie a lot.

Hi. This is Mike Fry from No Kill Learning and today I’ve got a story to tell you that you are going to wish was fiction, like Soylent Green. Sadly, it is not.

The story I’m going to tell you has not been widely covered, which is unfortunate, because people who live with pets should know about it in order to keep their animals healthy and safe. It is very disturbing news, so brace yourself…

(video: Fasten Your Seat Belts It’s going to be a bumpy night…)

Most people who have thought much about pet food, or who have paid attention to the constant stream of pet food recalls would not be surprised to hear me say that most pet foods are made with poor quality ingredients not fit for human consumption. Similarly, they would not be surprised if I told them that the cheap ingredients in pet food are then doused with large amounts of toxic preservatives, like BHA, which is why they can sit on a shelf for months and months without going bad. They also wouldn’t be surprised all kinds of toxic stuff is getting into our pets food, or that cancer rates in dogs and cats are climbing so fast that currently half of the pets over the age of 10 are developing cancer.

This is only a partial list of the pet food recalls since 2009.

But, there is one specific type of pet food recall I want to focus on, because these recalls clearly show how deep and dark the pit that is the pet food industry is…

(video: take the red pill…)

(Pentobarbital image) This is sodium pentobarbital, aka “euthanasia” solution. It is marketed and sold under a variety of brand names, like Euthasol, Nembutal and Pentasol, and even under darker sounding names like “Fatal-Plus” and “Succom.” (I swear, I am not making those last two up.)

Since about the mid 1990s it has been known that sodium pentobarbital has been showing up in pet foods… Sometimes with fatal results…

(Video: News Clips)

And, these are just a few of the clips related to one recall from earlier this year. More often than not, the drug is in the food, it goes unreported, it is not recalled, and no one says a word about it. To better understand that, we need to go back in time… to the late 1990s…

1998 was the year the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine decided to purchase a number of commercial dog foods to test them for sodium pentobarbital. What would cause the Center for Veterinary medicine to want to test dog foods for euthanasia solution, one might want to ask?

Well, the answer is kind pretty creepy. It turns out that large numbers of veterinarians were reporting that it was taking more and more pentobarbital in order to successfully euthanize pets. It was as if dogs and cats were developing a tolerance for the drug, as if dogs and cats were getting regular exposure to the drug.

If pets were getting regular doses of euthanasia solution, the most likely source of the drug was their pet foods. The thinking was simple:

Animal shelters and veterinarians euthanize pets using sodium pentobarbital. They then, usually, send the animal carcasses off to rendering plants where they are made into everything from fertilizers to cosmetics and pet foods.

Pet food companies are, in fact, one of the top purchasers of animal products from rendering plants.

So, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary medicine decided to purchase a bunch of pet food and began testing. The results were shocking. Nearly half of the samples tested positive for pentobarbital.

I’m serious. Almost half.

In spite of that, no recalls were issues and important details about the study were sealed, including the brand names of the products that tested positive. Hardly anyone knew anything about it.

It wasn’t until 2002 that they were required to disclose the details of the study. But, they did it quietly and still no recalls were done.

Instead, they concluded that pentobarbital in low doses had no effect on pets, completely ignoring the fact that the study had been done because veterinarians were reporting an observable effect on pets.

Even more troubling: knowing full well that DNA deteriorates at temperatures above 370 degrees Fahrenheit, and knowing that rendering occurs at temperatures far above that, where dog and cat carcasses are mixed in with cows, sheep and other animals, and then those rendered products are then cooked again when being made into pet foods, and then extruded under extreme heat and pressure… anyway, in spite of knowing all of that, they decided to test pet foods for dog and cat DNA and when they didn’t find any, they said they couldn’t know if dogs and cats were being used to make pet food.

No real meaningful action has been taken since then. And, the ridiculous DNA “study” done by the FDA has been used by many people to discredit the idea that dogs and cats killed in animal shelters are being used to make pet food.

Snopes, the famous fact-checking web site cited the debunked DNA study by the FDA in order to categorize the claim as “unproven.” They say that while it is true that animal shelters send dogs and cats to rendering, animal shelters take in all kinds of other animals, too. The theory being that maybe all of the other animals are being disposed of differently than the dogs and cats.

Some people simply do not want to believe that dogs and cats euthanized at animal shelters and veterinary clinics are being are being ground up into pet food. But, they are. The undercover video I am playing over here is of dog and cat carcasses being collected at California veterinary clinics and animal shelters, then being dumped into pit that funnels them into a giant grinder to be made into pet food. I’ve blurred the video, because it is too graphic to show you. If anyone needs proof it is real, contact me and I will point you to the full unaltered version of the video.

And, if that still does not convince you, here is a picture of how dead animals are collected and stored at animal shelters while they await pick up from the rendering plants. Again, I have blurred out the most graphic parts. Typically, they are all just dumped into big 50 gallon drums until they are picked up.

When the rendering truck arrives, the barrels are simply housted up and dumped into a massive truck, mixed in with road kill, and carcasses of zoo animals, and the bodies of horses and diseased or downed livestock that couldn’t be sold into the human food supply.

I’m sorry, but no one can possibly believe that people at the rendering plants are sorting through these gruesome loads to remove the dogs and cats.

If you still don’t believe that dogs and cats are being ground up and made into pet food, maybe you will believe this guy:

This is Hersh Pendell, the former president of the Association of American Feed Control Officers – you know, the folks who oversee pet food inspections and labeling. Back in the ‘90s he was interviewed by Seattle’s KING TV News. Here is what he had to say on the topic:

(video clip: Former AAFCO President)

Between then and now, not much has changed, which is why pets are still being poisoned by sodium pentobarbital in commercial pet foods.

This is Dr. Steve Solomon, the current head of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

On September 18 of this year, 2018, Dr. Solomon spoke at a joint pet food conference held in St. Louis, Missouri.

During his presentation, Dr. Solomon told the audience that - and I quote - “New evidence is showing that it [sodium pentobarbital contamination of pet foods] may be a much more pervasive problem in the animal food supply than originally thought.”

Wait! What?!

Does he mean more pervasive than the average consumer thought? Or more pervasive than his own agency thought when it found pentobarbital in nearly half the pet food samples tested? Also: What is this “new evidence” he was speaking of? And, why don’t pet owners know about it?

Solomon went on to explain that these rendered products are valuable to the pet food industry and reduce strains on the environment.

What he’s talking about is the fact that one of the alternatives to rendering is sending carcasses to landfills, which is also problematic. Wildlife can end up eating the euthanized animals, or the toxins can wind up leaching into our ground water. And, given that animal shelters alone dispose of about 125 million pounds of dog and cat carcasses every year, that is a LOT of toxic waste to deal with.

Honestly, the solution to these cannot reasobably be solved by feeding toxic waste to our pets.

It seems the entities we count on to protect us and our pets have failed failed us.

Animal shelters we look to as leaders in the field of animal care continue needlessly turning healthy or treatable pets into toxic waste and then shipping them off to rendering plants, without warning pet owners of the dangers. Veterinarians supply the rendering plants, too, while looking the other way while pretending there is nothing to worry about.

Hey! I warned you up-front that this was a dark and disturbing topic… But, I am about to switch gears to share with you the good news. And, there is good news. But, before I do, I want to recommend two books for anyone who wants more information about the pet food industry.

The first is “The Foods Pets Die For” by Ann Martin. It is available from Amazon in paperback and kindle formats.

I also recommend “Not Fit for a Dog” by Drs. Michael Fox, Elizabeth Hodgkins and Marion Smart. It is an insiders’ look at the pet food industry. And I should note that Dr. Hodgkins was a senior nutritionist for Hill’s Pet Foods, makers of science diet products. I’m pretty sure her former employer is not very happy about the book.

OK. Now for the good news!

Protecting yourself and your pets is easier than you think. Simply ditch commercial pet foods by making your own pet food at home. We’ve been doing that at our house for about 30 years, using foods we buy at the grocery store – mostly raw meat that is fit for human consumption. There are recipes and suggestions all over the Internet to help you get started.

At our house, we keep a stash of pet food ingredients in a special area of the refrigerator. We easily mix up raw meat, grains and vegetables for each serving. It takes about the same amount of time as opening a can, or scooping kibble out of a bag. And, the difference it has made in our pets is remarkable. They are happier, healthier, have more energy and we have saved tons of money on vet bills. We have no way to quantify how much money we have saved. But, it is a lot. Take our dog Bella for example.

When we adopted Bella many years ago, we didn’t think she was going to live very long. She was diabetic and traditional veterinarians were having trouble regulating her insulin. Her diabetes was so bad and her pancreas so damaged that it was no longer producing digestive enzymes, making it impossible for her to absorb her food. No matter how much she ate, she was losing weight, because the food would just pass through. In spite of that, her blood sugar levels were off the charts, often exceeding 750, the highest reading possible on her glucometer.

Veterinarians had prescribed an expensive prescription diet often given to diabetic dogs. It was Science Diet W/D formula. When I read the ingredients on the food, I was shocked to see that it was loaded with corn, more corn, other starches and sugars.

Let that sink in: The pet food and veterinary industry was feeding a diabetic carnivore an expensive food that was made up of mostly starches and sugars and other junk… and almost no meat at all.

We tossed the Science Diet prescription food in the garbage, where we believe it belonged, and began giving her healthful food, based, primarily, on raw meat. We added organ meat – particularly pancreas – to her food to help her digest better.

Her blood sugar dropped from 700 or higher to normal range. It has remained stable and under 200 ever since. She also began gaining needed weight. Ande were also able to cut her insulin dose in half.

Feeding Bella homemade food likely saved her life and saved us a ton of money.

Bella’s story is not unique. In my years in animal rescue, I have had the opportunity to convert many pets to homemade food and have seen all kinds of medical and behavioral challenges disappear, ranging from idiopathic aggression to epilepsy and dermatitis.

Bella is now a senior dog. But, you would never know it by watching her run and play with our other pets. She has more energy and vitality than most pets half her age.

If for some reason you will not make your pets food yourself, you can at least learn to read pet food labels and read them diligently. Reading pet food labels can be shocking in and of itself.

Avoiding rendered products is easy: Don’t buy any foods that have unidentified animal products in them, like “Animal Fat,” “Animal Tallow” or “Meat and Bone Meal” or “Animal byproduct Meal.”

That will eliminate many pet foods. When you learn to look for other problem ingredients and avoid foods containing those things, you will have very few commercial pet food options available. And if you still refuse to cut the cord that ties you to commercial pet foods, one simple thing you can do is to buy only foods that are certified organic.

On behalf of your companion animals, I strongly encourage you to join the millions of Americans saying goodbye to commercial pet foods in favor of making whole, healthful nutrition made for their pets in their own kitchens.

If you do, when the next pet food recall comes around, you can rest easy knowing your pets are safe.

If you are a shelter or rescue organization that would like to build a truly healthful pet food program for your animals, I’m hear to help.

My contact information is at the link.

Thanks for watching.


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