Euthanasia drug found in dog food prompts recall

DETROIT — Evanger's is voluntarily recalling some of its dog food after a drug that is used to anesthetize or put down pets was found in it.

Pentobarbital was found in one lot of the dog food; five dogs got sick and one died, according to the Wheeling, Ill.-based company.

Fifteen states are affected by the Hunk of Beef Au Jus recall. The 12-ounce cans were  manufactured June 6-13 and sold in stores and online in Washington, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

As a precaution, Evanger's is recalling Hunk of Beef products manufactured the same week, with lot numbers that start with 1816E03HB, 1816E04HB, 1816E06HB, 1816E07HB and 1816E13HB, and expire June 2020.  The second half of the barcode on the back of the label says 20109. The ill and deceased dogs ate from the 1816E06HB13 lot.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is distributing information about the recall as well.

All Evanger’s suppliers of meat products are USDA approved, the company said.

"We feel that we have been let down by our supplier, and in reference to the possible presence of pentobarbital, we have let down our customers," the company said in a press release on its website, adding that it's the first recall in 82 years of manufacturing.

Evanger's said it has terminated its relationship with that supplier after 40 years, though that company services "many other pet food companies."

Dr. Alan Lewis of DePorre Veterinary Hospital in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., advised dog owners to take the recall seriously.

"I would be vigilant of any of those things," he said. "Call your vet to see if they have any more information. In most cases, they’re just taking abundance of caution."

Evanger's found out that dogs became sick on New Years’ Eve and began what would become a four-week investigation, which included sending samples from the lot to an independent lab "to test for any toxin or bacteria we could possibly imagine. All of those tests came back negative. It was not until January 29th that we learned about the term, 'pentobarbital.'"

The company said pentobarbital is more of an issue in dry foods that get their ingredients from rendering plants, which Evanger's doesn't do.

In researching the supply chain, Evanger's learned that "pentobarbital is very highly controlled, and that, if an animal is euthanized, it is done so by a veterinarian. Once this process has been done, there is absolutely no regulation that requires the certified vet to place any kind of marker on the animal indicating that it has been euthanized and guaranteeing that product from euthanized animals cannot enter the food chain."

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-847-537-0102 10 a.m.-5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.

Pentobarbital can cause drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea and sometimes death, said the company.

Evanger's is paying the ill dogs' vet bills and making a donation to a local shelter in honor of Talula, one of four pugs owned by Nikki Mael and her family in Washougal, Wash., who were sickened by the dog food. Talula died.

Detroit Free Press


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