My Luna died in 2006. Her sickness was horrible. My ex and I were new to our area, and we fell in with a less than competent vet. We nursed Luna along for two weeks while the vet assured us that her test results showed improvement. We ignored evidence to the contrary because we wanted to believe that Luna really was improving and that she’d be fine. We ultimately ended up putting Luna to sleep at an emergency vet’s office. The emergency vet asked me why we hadn’t put her to sleep sooner, and I felt like I’d abused my dog.
Luna’s death was a mystery. Her liver failed, but nobody could tell us why a six year old dog’s liver would fail. We had other dogs, so we were in a panic. Was there poison hidden somewhere in the town home that Luna had found and that the other dogs would eventually find? My dogs were always on leash, but had she eaten something outside while my back was turned? Had the lawn company spread poison outside the town homes? We were terrified that we were going to lose our two other dogs.
Three weeks after Luna’s death, a light bulb came on for me. I saw a news report that said Wal-Mart had quietly pulled Chinese chicken jerky treats for dogs off their shelves. I instantly flashed back to a day over a month earlier when I’d dropped a bag of chicken jerky treats and Luna had wolfed down several big pieces before I could stop her. I no longer had the bag or the receipt. I wasn’t entirely sure what brand they were or where I’d bought them. I didn’t even know where to begin with a campaign to avenge Luna’s death. I was sad and tired and I had a ton of vet bills on my credit card to pay off. So I let it go. I grieved and I made a personal vow to never buy chicken jerky treats again.
Over six years later, Purina, Canyon Ranch, and Waggin’ Train have voluntarily pulled chicken jerky treats from store shelves. This is after years of people complaining about the sicknesses and deaths of their dogs. The first thing I did when I heard about the recall was hit Facebook to see what people were saying. On the Waggin’ Train page, you’ll find Waggin’ Train saying their treats were always safe. You’ll also find memorial pictures of deceased dogs, stories of sickness and death, and some people who love Waggin’ Train and are angry that others are bitching. Some people are recommending other brands of chicken jerky treats. I imagine that many people are letting their dogs finish off already purchased bags of treats, or they are searching for a different brand to buy.
I saw the same misplaced trust and brand loyalty during the 2012 voluntary dog food recall. Several companies had been sharing a factory, so the recall was huge, impacting buyers of relatively expensive and budget dog foods, alike. I had been using one of those brands. Again, I found that some people were intensely brand loyal. Not me, buddy. I dropped that food like a hot rock. I found a brand of food that wasn’t sharing a factory with any other company. Even two companies sharing a factory leaves room for cross-contamination, not to mention the fact that it left me wondering what exactly it was that I’d been purchasing. My new dog food company also doesn’t import ingredients from China. The allure of the exotic orient doesn’t exist for me when it comes to food safety. I switched, and I’ll switch again, if this company lets me down.
Maybe it was Luna’s death that killed loyalty, for me. I just can’t get around the idea of insisting that something is wonderful, insisting that it’s safe, when there is plenty of room for doubt. I don’t see people displaying such loyalty when the health and safety of their families are put at risk by a product. The truth is that nobody has said exactly what is causing the illnesses and deaths of dogs. Ain’t no way I’d feed my dogs something that is killing other dogs. I don’t care what country it comes from or who made it.
Advertising is a huge factor in the buying decisions that people make. Pet food and treat companies build trust by assuring us that they want the very best for our pets. They want our pets to be happy and healthy. They want to be our PARTNERS in raising our pets. They applaud us for smartly and kindly forking over our dough for their products. They try to make us feel like we’re REALLY special if we give our pets their company’s treats, because, let’s face it, dogs don’t need treats to live. Treats are luxury items for our luxury pets. You are a helluva pet owner if you purchase dog treats from a company that goes all out to help you be a helluva pet owner.
So, actually be a helluva pet owner. Be loyal to your dog, not to some company or form of treat. Most dog food and treat companies, even the best of them, don’t give a damn about your dog or you. They’ll cover their own butts until bad situations reach critical mass and they have to do something. Your dog wouldn’t chose someone else over you. Don’t choose anyone or anything over your dog.