OFF THE MARKET AT LAST
It was a long time and hundreds of dog deaths coming, but Del Monte and Nestle Purina announced this week that they will cease to market Chinese-made chicken jerky treats sold under their brand names.
Del Monte’s Milo’s Kitchen products and Nestle Purina’s Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats will all be pulled from the market after the New York State Department of Agriculture found possible contamination by an antibiotic that is illegal in the U.S.
The treats have been anecdotally linked to kidney failure, illness and death in hundreds of dogs, and the FDA — while never going so far as to recall them — has issued three different warnings to pet owners in the past five years about possible risks.
FDA tests for toxins and heavy metals have found no explanation for the alleged illnesses, and its unclear if the banned antibiotic is the culprit in the hundreds of dogs deaths in which the treats were suspected to be a factor.
Nevertheless, Nestle Purina and Del Monte decided to pull their products after New York officials announced they had found trace amounts of the banned antibiotic in tests of the products, ABC reported.
“Pet safety and consumer confidence in our products are our top priorities,” said Rob Leibowitz, Del Monte’s general manager for Pet Products. “While there is no known health risk, the presence of even trace amounts of these antibiotics does not meet our high quality standards. Therefore, today we decided to recall both products and asked retailers to remove the products from their shelves.”
Nestle Purina also stressed that “there is no indication that the trace amounts of antibiotic residue are linked to the FDA’s ongoing investigation of chicken jerky products.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, canyon creek ranch, chicken, china, chines, deaths, del monte, dog food, dogs, fda, gone, hazards, health, illness, investigation, jerky, kidneys, market, milos kitchen, nestle purina, off, pet food, pets, pulled, recalls, related, safety, suspected, tests, treats, waggin train
Then their fur is boiled, torn or torched off so they can be chopped up, sold and eaten.
It remains a thriving, and often shady, business — even though only a minority of South Koreans eat dog, and even though those numbers are decreasing.
Recent years have seen a rise in pet keeping in South Korea, and along with it a higher degree of respect afforded to dogs, especially those of the purebred variety.
At the same time, South Korea’s fledgling animal welfare movement is becoming stronger and more active, and banning the eating of dog is at the top of its agenda.
Still, there are those, inside South Korea and out, who would like to see a total and immediate end to dog meat consumption.
Among them is In Defense of Animals (IDA), an organization that has been holding a global day of protest against the practice for the past seven years.
This year, IDA has joined forces with two South Korean animal welfare groups – Coexistence for Animal Rights on Earth (CARE) and Korean Animal Rights Advocates (KARA), to protest dog meat consumption.
The 7th annual International Day of Action for South Korean Dogs and Cats is tomorrow — Tuesday, August 16 — and is timed to coincide with what is the peak period of dog consumption in South Korea, the hottest summer months. Many of those who market and consume canine meat maintain it increases vitality, male sexual prowess and general health — all myths, according to IDA.
At the events, held simultaneously in dozens of cities around the world, activists pass out leaflets and hold signs, often outside South Korean Embassies and Consulates.
You can find a full list of the day’s events in America and other countries here.
I met some of South Korea’s animal activists, and visited an outdoor dog market during a trip to Seoul in 2009 to research my book, “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.”
South Korea was the first country to clone a dog — a feat some say was made possible by the easy access to dogs from dog farms. Both before and after the birth of Snuppy, the first canine clone, scientists used farm dogs both for their eggs and as surrogates in their attempts to clone the species.
Given that, I felt the need to visit Moran Market, an open air bazaar outside Seoul where cages line the street for a full city block, and dogs can be purchased in part or in whole, live or dead, cooked or raw, for as little as $100.
Customers commonly choose a live dog from a cage, at which point the dog is pulled out with a noose attached to a stick, dragged into a nearby room and given a fatal electrical shock with what resembles a cattle prod. It is thrown into a steel vat of boiling water to soften the meat and make its fur easier to remove. From there it is tumbled in a dryer that removes most of the fur. A torch is used to burn off any that remains, and the dog is then butchered to order while you wait. About 25 percent of South Korea’s dog meat is sold through Moran Market.
On my visit to the market, workers waved me down. They offered me a seat by the fire, a cup of tea and a cigarette. One grabbed a long stick, poked it through the bars in the cage and jabbed several dogs to show me how lively they were. The asking price was about $150, though it eventually dropped to $100.
While a few purebreds were in the mix, almost all were mutts. Most dog meat in Korea comes from mixed breeds that, while similar to the native Jindo breed in appearance, are mongrels, and are often referred to simply as “yellow dogs.” Most of them have been raised on farms, spending most of their lives in cages, or on three-foot chains.
Seeing I was uninterested in buying an entire live dog, the merchants offered me half of one – boiled and de-furred, but with its head, tail and paws still intact.
While there is disagreement over how far back dog eating in Korea goes, long stretches of poverty and war made it more popular, and necessary. While many never took up the practice, or have abandoned it, an estimated 500 to 600 restaurants in Seoul alone serve dog, in various forms.
Animal activists told me that the bulk of market dogs come from farms, but that stolen and stray pets often end up in the mix, and even dogs sold by unethical animal shelters.
“There are dogs picked up as strays off the streets and dogs that were being used to breed pets but have gotten old and useless,” said Soyoun Park, president of CARE.
“The way you can distinguish if it’s a farm dog or a homeless dog is that those dogs that are raised at the farm won’t look at a human directly. They don’t want eye contact. Those who are not afraid about looking a human in the eye are usually dogs that have been raised in someone’s house.”
Dog was removed from the menus of many restaurants during the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and in 1991, South Korea passed its first animal protection law, ostensibly forbidding the sale and consumption of dog meat.
But the government has done little to enforce it — nearly 6,500 stores in the country still sell dog meat, according to the IDA.
As some some activists in Seoul told me, pressure from outside the country, up to now, seems to have had little effect on decreasing dog meat consumption in South Korea. Any true and lasting change, they believe, will likely have to come from within.
And as one pointed out, Americans — with all our righteous indignation — live in a country where the number of dogs euthanized at shelters every year is just about the same as the number consumed in Korea.
When it comes to the well-being of dogs as a species, be they American or Korean, there is work to be done. I’m just glad there are people — in both countries — doing it.
(Photos by John Woestendiek)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal rights, animal welfare, cloning, coexistence for animal rights on earth, dog farms, dog inc., dog meat, eating dog, embassies, events, farm dogs, ida, in defense of animals, international day of action, korean animal rights advocates, laws, market, moran market, photos, pressure, protest, seoul, south korea
You don’t need me to tell you that it has gotten more expensive than ever to be the owner, guardian, caretaker, parent — pick your term — of a dog.
Over your dog’s lifespan, you can expect to dish out anywhere from $9,400 to $14,000, according to the latest estimates from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
As we’ve noted before, spending on pets seems to just keeps growing, even when the rest of the economy has a droopy, hang dog look. Despite the recession, spending on pets has gone up 6 percent annually since 2008, to $48 billion last year, according to the American Pet Products Association.
And a new survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center says that even during the “darkest days” of the recession in 2009 and 2010, when self-denial became common, only 16 percent of respondents reported spending less on their pets.
Of course, what those kind of statistics don’t take into account are all the dogs that — during those darkest days (which, as far as I can see, we’re still in) — have been surrendered and abandoned by families who have fallen into foreclosure or otherwise been forced to move into cheaper rental housing where pets aren’t allowed.
Even if the pet industry is gliding through the recession, many pet owners — and pets — are not.
Since 2008, pet food, veterinary care, and other services have risen at an annual rate of about 4 percent on average, considerably faster than the rate of overall inflation, according to the latest issue of Consumer Reports.
The magazine interviewed manufacturers, nutritionists and veterinarians, and jumped into the crowded pet product marketplace to sniff out the best bargains — and it reports that it’s possible to save hundreds of dollars a year on pet care without shortchanging your pet.
The package of stories is well worth checking out — and they’re all illustrated with photos taken of shelter pets (still the best bargain, it notes) at the North Shore Animal League. Here’s a partial summary:
A significant part of the national pet-food bill these days — Amerians spend about $20 billion a year on it — goes for so-called premium and super-premium varieties.
But “premium” is a virtually meaningless term, with no real legal definition.
Any food you see on supermarket and pet-store shelves that’s labeled “complete & balanced,” “total nutrition,” or “100 percent nutritious” should meet the minimum standards for nutrition set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. That indicates that it’s adequate for the vast majority of healthy pets.
Pet insurance generally costs more than it pays out, the magazine said. Only in uncommon cases, when a pet requires very expensive care, does the coverage pay for itself.
CR compared the three biggest brands — ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, 24PetWatch QuickCare, and VPI, and a fourth, Trupanion, that is a relative newcomer.
In the case of Roxy, a basically healthy 10-year-old beagle in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. whose lifetime medical expenses were examined, CR reported that none of the nine different policies it compared would have paid out more than the projected premiums.
Instead, the magazine suggests starting your own emergency fund, or “kitty,” to help with unforeseen vet bills.
CR says you’ll probably be better off having your dog’s prescription filled at a chain drugstore, supermarket pharmacy, or big-box retailer than through your veterinarian.
Walgreens, for example, allows customers to enroll their pets as family members in its Prescription Savings Club. Giant/Eagle, Kroger, and Target also have discount programs that are open to pets. At 35 of its pharmacies in Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Tennessee, Target is trying out a program called PetRx to fill prescriptions for veterinary medicines.
Several online pet medicine dispensaries offer significantly lower prices as well.
Despite all that, about two-thirds of the pet owners CR surveyed said they buy their pet medicines from the vet who prescribes them.
CHOOSING A VET
The CR survey found that while most people love their vets, they don’t love the prices he or she charges.
“Because veterinary care is an infrequent, sometimes emergency expenditure, it’s difficult for consumers to gauge what constitutes a fair price for any of the hundreds of services their pet might require. The best time to comparison shop is when your pet needs a routine checkup, not when you’re stressed out by a sick or injured animal,” the article says.
CR suggests calling two or three nearby vets to ask what their physical-exam fee is. Nationally, it can range from roughly $35 to $46, according to a 2008 survey of 826 U.S. vets by the American Animal Hospital Association.
FLEA AND TICK TREATMENTS
There are more choices than ever here, some of them even affordable. With the patent expiring on fipronil, one of the active ingredients in Frontline Plus, a leading brand, the market has opened up to competitors.
CR found two that were new to the market, Sentry FiproGuard Plus at Petco and PetArmor Plus at Walmart, offered sizeable savings. A three month supply of PetArmor Plus cost $28, compared with $50 for FiproGuard Plus and $62 for Frontline Plus at Petco.
“We found other brands for as little as $9, but be careful. Some inexpensive products might not be as effective and might require you to spray or treat more often … The more insecticide you find yourself using, the greater the health and safety risks to you and your pet.”
(Photos: Top photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!; other photos by Michael Smith, courtesy of Consumer Reports)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 7th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bargains, care, caretakers, cat, consumer reports, consumer reports national research center, costs, dog, dog food, economy, expense, flea, frontline, guardians, insurance, market, medicine, north shore animal league, nutrition, pet, pet insurance, pet owners, pet products, pets, premium, prescriptions, prices, raising, recession, retailers, rising costs, saving money, survey, tick, treatments, veterinarians, veterinary, veterinary care, vets
After a brief hiatus due to copyright infringement concerns, “Dog Wars” — the controversial game app for Android smartphones — is back on the online marketplace, where it’s being offered under the new name of “KG Dogfighting.”
Google’s Android Market website began offering the renamed app Saturday. While originally available for free, it’s now listed at $2.99.
A Google representative said the application was removed last week ”based on a trademark infringement complaint” but did not say at the time whether it would be sold again if those issues were resolved, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The game application allows players to raise and train a virtual pit bull to fight other virtual dogs, garnering streed “cred” and “money in your pocket,” according to its developers.
Among those who have filed complaints about the application with Google is the president of Los Angeles police officer’s union.
In the letter sent to Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page, Los Angeles Police Protective League President Paul M. Weber urged Google “to do the right thing and ban this game permanently.”
“The game teaches users how to breed, train, fight, medicate and kill virtual dogs,” Weber wrote. “The entire concept is repulsive and sickening.”
Animal welfare groups, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have voiced concerns about the game and urged it be removed from the market.
Kage Games, the creators of the Dog Wars application, said in an email to The Times that the game was meant to educate the public on the evils of animal cruelty.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: android, animal cruelty, animal welfare, ap, application, aspca, controversy, dog wars, dogfighting app, game, gamers, games, google, hsus, kage games, kg dogfighting, los angeles, market, marketplace, news, peta, pit bulls, police, return, smartphone, union, update
When it came to Seattle, John Steinbeck found some charm in the downtown market area, but otherwise painted a bleak portrait. To him, by the time he and Charley rolled through the Emerald City, the flower was off the bloom.
Seattle had boomed repeatedly before he arrived, thanks to lumber, gold, shipbuilding and Boeing; and, decades after he was gone, it would boom again, thanks to Microsoft, Amazon and a slew of other high tech and biotech companies that located there.
The Seattle Steinbeck and Charley pulled into in 1960 was far different from the Seattle of today, and far different from the one he remembered — its rapid growth, in his view, having tarnished the land:
“I remembered Seattle as a town sitting on hills beside a matchless harborage — a little city of space and trees and gardens … It is no longer so. The tops of hills are shaved off to make level warrens for the rabbits of the present. The highways eight lanes wide cut like glaciers through the uneasy land. This Seattle had no relation to the one I remembered. The traffic rushed with murderous intensity …
“Along what had been country lanes rich with berries, high wire fences and mile-long factories stretched and the yellow smoke of progress hung over all, fighting the sea winds’ efforts to drive them off … Everywhere frantic growth, a carcinomatous growth … I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction.”
That’s not the Seattle I saw.
To me, Seattle seems a city that has come to handle growth far better than most. It’s one of America’s most scenic, literate, educated, progressive, well off and environmentally conscious cities. It’s green in all three meanings of the word. And it’s highly dog-friendly.
Maybe it’s a case of the difference 50 years makes, or of how city leaders have taken control of the reigns of growth. Maybe, too, Steinbeck’s less than flattering description was partly a result of being a little down when he arrived — what with his dog having been sick, himself being travel weary. Likely, Steinbeck — who waited several days in Seattle for his wife, who was having difficulty getting a flight – was getting a little crabby.
He spent three or four days luxuriating in his hotel room near the airport, watching “I Love Lucy” and other TV shows — not the best way to get one’s fingers into the fabric of a city — as he waited for Elaine Steinbeck.
Once she arrived, they visited the downtown market before heading down the coast of Oregon together to California. Sections of the original manuscript recounting his time with his wife were later edited out of the book — the “we’s” changed to “I’s”.
“… I walked in the old part of Seattle, where the fish and crabs and shrimps lay beautifully on white beds of shaved ice and where the washed and shining vegetables were arranged in pictures. I drank clam juice and ate the sharp crab cocktails at stands along the waterfront. It was not much changed — a little more run-down and dingy than it was twenty years ago.”
Seattle — now better known for grunge than dinge — would continue to have it’s ups and downs after he left. Two years after Steinbeck’s visit — the year “Travels with Charley” came out — Seattle was the site of the 1962 World’s Fair. In the late 60s and early 70s, its economy took a turn for the worse – to the point that one local Realtor put up a now legendary billboard requesting that the last resident to exit turn off the light.
Like all big cities, Seattle, during the suburbanization of America, faced seeing its core rot away — or, as Steinbeck described it:
“… When a city begins to grow and expand outward, from the edges, the center which was once its glory is in a sense abandoned to time. Then the buildings grow dark and a kind of decay sets in, poorer people move in as the rents fall, and small fringe buinesses take the place of once flowering establishments…”
It’s all subjective, though. Our impression of a new place is based on the tiny part of it we see, what transpires in that process, the mood we’re in while seeing it, and, often, who we see it with.
In my case, this time around I had two long-time residents serving as my hosts and tour guides. (More on them tomorrow.)
- I probably wouldn’t have seen the view of the skyline from Kerry Park; the street performer that plays and juggles guitars, all while hula-hooping; or the hotel that bears the same name as my dog. (More on that Monday.)
I’d been to Seattle before, but only in a rush-in, pester-people, get-the-story, rush-out newspaper reporter kind of way.
That — a hit and run — is not the correct way to meet a city.
Here again, maybe we can learn something from dogs. For starters, take your time. Forget your schedule, and all those other uniquely human notions. Instead, let the city hold its hand out to you. Circle it a time or two, explore the periphery, then approach it slowly. Give it a sniff and, if you like what you smell, maybe a lick. After that, you can jump up on it, snuggle with it, play with it, fetch what it throws, savor the treats it offers, even choose to become loyal to it.
In other words, to paraphrase the author whose route we are following, and who some might suggest failed to follow his own advice when it came to Seattle: Don’t take the trip, let the trip take you.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 13th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cities, dog, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, economy, environment, growth, history, impressions, industry, john steinbeck, market, pets, road trip, seattle, steinbeck, tourism, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, travels with charley