Mixed Results from Reaching Out to Pet Food Companies About DCM

Long-time WDJ contributor Mary Straus and I are working on some articles about the cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy that have been discussed in every dog-related setting for many months now. One of the next issues of WDJ will contain the first of the pieces that we have been collaborating on. But I just thought I would share something interesting that I noticed in the process of gathering information from various pet food companies.

We wanted to see what sort of response a consumer might get
from writing to pet food companies about a problem with their foods. We went to
the websites of 39 pet food companies and looked for email addresses to send a note
to, and found, to our surprise, that only seven listed any kind of email
address. Instead, the majority of companies offer a web form for consumers to
fill out – you know, the kind of thing where you fill in your name, email
address, perhaps phone number, and then a comment/question, and then hit
“submit.”

Why did I find this interesting? Because it leaves the
consumer with no way to prove they had ever sent a letter or question to the
company! Or provide them with a dated copy of the letter or question they sent!

My letter to pet food companies

This is the letter I sent to the 39 companies:

“Hello, I am trying to gather information about the response of pet food companies to the FDA’s announcements/updates about the apparent increase in cases of canine DCM, especially in dogs who have been fed diets containing peas and other legumes, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

Your
company was among those whose products were named in reports to the FDA by
consumers as being potentially implicated in their dogs’ disease.

Would
you please tell me if or how your company has chosen to respond to the news of
this issue?  Have you made any changes to any of your formulas? If so,
what were those changes, and to which/how many of your products?

If
you have not made any changes to your formulas, could you explain your
justification for this?

If you have already released a pertinent response, could you please direct me to or send me a copy of that statement?”

Responses to my inqueries

I received responses from 25 of the 39 companies. Now, take
this with a grain of salt, because I made a custom email address for the
companies to respond to, and it’s possible that at least some of the companies wrote back because the email address clearly
identified the inquiry I sent them as being from Whole Dog Journal (InquiryFromWholeDogJournal@gmail.com).
Also, within a few days, five companies sent me personalized responses, based
on the fact that my inquiry had been forwarded to someone at the company that
knew me, either from manufacturing site tours or meetings at pet product trade
shows or something.

Also, I received phone calls from representatives of three
companies, each of whom I had met personally at some point in the past. My cell
phone number was present in the letter I sent to each company, but only people
with whom I had spoken in years past actually called me to discuss the letter I
sent.

I received what appeared to be automatically generated responses
from 24 companies – the kind of email that says, “We got your note, we’ll get
back to you within 48 hours (or some such).” And like I said, one company’s
representative called me right away, and two more called me within a few days,
and about five more responded within days with a personalized response. But two
weeks later, six of the companies who responded with these automatic responses
still have not gotten back to me. At least (most of them) provided toll-free
phone numbers to call if I was interested in getting a quicker response.

Of the 19 companies whose responses I have not yet
described, a few were so generic as to be completely useless, or suggested that
I call the company instead. For example:

“We would be happy to speak to you about this matter… Our
Customer Care Specialists may be reached at 888-XXX-XXXX.”

How about this one? It sounds like the company is addressing
my inquiry, because it uses some of the same words in my inquiry, but it
doesn’t answer anything I asked! “We
appreciate you bringing your concern regarding the canine Dilated
Cardiomyopathy and we are happy to answer your inquiry. Please know that as a leader in
pet nutrition, we stand behind the safety and quality of all our foods and meet
or exceed every major food quality and safety standard including those issued
by the FDA, USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and AAFCO. We also have not
been contacted by the FDA regarding any cases involving our products.” (The
response was longer, but didn’t address any of the questions that I asked.)

By the way, of the three companies whose
representatives (including two company owners) who called me in response to my
inquiry, none had spoken with anyone from the FDA regarding the cases of DCM
that had reportedly implicated or mentioned their products. The two company
owners I spoke with told me that they had tried to reach someone at the FDA,
but had zero success.

I’m happy to report that a few companies did respond directly to my questions. The rest tended to refer me to statements on the company websites that they had already prepared in response to the issue well ahead of my inquiry. Those statements, of course, don’t necessarily answer my questions directly.

Try It Yourself

I’ll be trying to reach the companies again via their
toll-free numbers and will report on whether that effort is more or less
successful.

I will admit a bias toward companies that have phone
numbers on their labels and websites and email addresses on at least their
websites, to make it as easy as possible for consumers to reach them in case of
a dog food-related health issue. And of course, my bias is even stronger toward
companies who are staffed with knowledgeable people who can respond
appropriately and directly to inquiries in a timely manner. Don’t assume for a
second that this rules out all the so-called boutique pet food companies, or qualifies all the giant pet food
stalwarts.

Try it yourself! Write to or call your favorite dog food company and ask something simple, such as “Have you always included taurine as a supplement in your dog diets? Do you do so now?” or “Can you tell me how much taurine, or cysteine and methionine, is in (name of food you feed your dog)?”

If you ask the latter question – and they have an
answer! – make sure you ask also whether the amount is expressed “as fed” or on
a “dry matter basis.”

Let us know how it goes!

The post Mixed Results from Reaching Out to Pet Food Companies About DCM appeared first on Whole Dog Journal.

Instagram-Famous Dachshund Can Balance Almost Any Object On His Head

Harlso is an adorable Dachshund that has become a social media star thanks to his unusual talent. He can balance items on his head! Not just specific items, but he can balance nearly anything on his head including dog toys, donuts, and even a tower of cards! There seems to be no limit to this dog’s talent, which is what has made him a social media star. So, how did this adorable dog even learn this special skill?

Image: @Harlso/Facebook

The Start of an Amazing Talent

When Harlso was only two years old, his dad, Paul Lavery, thought it would be funny to set a squeaky toy on Harlso’s head. When he did so, Harlso became frozen in place, allowing the toy to balance on his head. Before that moment, Harlso’s parents had no idea of his hidden talent, so they were amazed.

Image: @Harlso/Facebook

Lavery and his partner, Jen Scott, said that they had tried to teach Harlso tricks many times before. He had no interest in “sit,” “lie down,” or “roll over.” However, he seemed perfectly content balancing his toy on his head.

So, Lavery and Scott decided to try balancing other items on Harlso’s head as well. From there, they learned that he seemed to be capable of balancing all kinds of strange objects.

Image: @Harlso/Facebook

Harlso’s Rising Fame

At first, Harlso’s parents created him an Instagram mostly just for their friends and family, however, it soon became a huge hit. Harlso had 14,000 followers within 9 months. He currently is up to 110,000 followers! He even won Ireland’s Social Media Personality of the Year award.

On Harlso’s social media, his parents post different photos and videos of him balancing items while wearing a matching bowtie. He currently owns over 300 unique bowties.

Image: @Harlso/Facebook

Lavery says that he never allows Harlso to balance anything that could potentially be dangerous to him, so never anything too heavy. Almost every object that Harlso has balanced so far he’s gotten on his first try. Regardless of the shape of the object, he seems to have no problem letting it rest on his head. His parents guess that he has successfully balanced 99% of the objects so far. He truly is one talented dog.

“He was always really bossy and a bit of a diva so the fame hasn’t changed him because he’s always been like that!” said Lavery.

Harlso’s parents don’t think that his talents can be taught. In fact, they’re not even sure how or why he does it. Lavery even said that one day Harlso might lose interest in it and stop balancing things, but in the meantime, there are plenty of adorable photos of his amazing skills. What other odd talents could our dogs be hiding from us?

Image: @Harlso/Facebook

Featured Image: @Harlso/Facebook

H/T: foxnews.com

The post Instagram-Famous Dachshund Can Balance Almost Any Object On His Head appeared first on iHeartDogs.com.

Snuggle Sack Makes a Comfy Dog Bed

The dual purpose Chatsworth Snuggle Sack can be used as a folded snuggle pocket pet bed or can be laid flat and used as a thick dog mat. This innovative dog bed is made with four layers, including double thick quilted padding layers, which makes for a pretty durable dog mat. On the bottom you’ll find faux suede for grip and on the reverse side is a soft cozy sherpa fleece. Since these handmade beds come in sizes that will fit most dogs from Chihuahuas to Great Danes and in a variety of styles, we think they’ll be a hit in most dog homes.

Tags: 

Dog Who Protected Obama Family Awarded Medal

Hurricane is the first international dog to receive this British medal

The job of the Secret Service to protect important elected officials is too important to be left to humans alone. Dogs also protect presidents and their families. One such canine just received a prestigious award for protecting the Obama family from a White House intruder back in 2014.

Tags: 

Mixed Results from Reaching Out to Pet Food Companies About DCM

Long-time WDJ contributor Mary Straus and I are working on some articles about the cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy that have been discussed in every dog-related setting for many months now. One of the next issues of WDJ will contain the first of the pieces that we have been collaborating on. But I just thought I would share something interesting that I noticed in the process of gathering information from various pet food companies.

We wanted to see what sort of response a consumer might get
from writing to pet food companies about a problem with their foods. We went to
the websites of 39 pet food companies and looked for email addresses to send a note
to, and found, to our surprise, that only seven listed any kind of email
address. Instead, the majority of companies offer a web form for consumers to
fill out – you know, the kind of thing where you fill in your name, email
address, perhaps phone number, and then a comment/question, and then hit
“submit.”

Why did I find this interesting? Because it leaves the
consumer with no way to prove they had ever sent a letter or question to the
company! Or provide them with a dated copy of the letter or question they sent!

My letter to pet food companies

This is the letter I sent to the 39 companies:

“Hello, I am trying to gather information about the response of pet food companies to the FDA’s announcements/updates about the apparent increase in cases of canine DCM, especially in dogs who have been fed diets containing peas and other legumes, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

Your
company was among those whose products were named in reports to the FDA by
consumers as being potentially implicated in their dogs’ disease.

Would
you please tell me if or how your company has chosen to respond to the news of
this issue?  Have you made any changes to any of your formulas? If so,
what were those changes, and to which/how many of your products?

If
you have not made any changes to your formulas, could you explain your
justification for this?

If you have already released a pertinent response, could you please direct me to or send me a copy of that statement?”

Responses to my inqueries

I received responses from 25 of the 39 companies. Now, take
this with a grain of salt, because I made a custom email address for the
companies to respond to, and it’s possible that at least some of the companies wrote back because the email address clearly
identified the inquiry I sent them as being from Whole Dog Journal (InquiryFromWholeDogJournal@gmail.com).
Also, within a few days, five companies sent me personalized responses, based
on the fact that my inquiry had been forwarded to someone at the company that
knew me, either from manufacturing site tours or meetings at pet product trade
shows or something.

Also, I received phone calls from representatives of three
companies, each of whom I had met personally at some point in the past. My cell
phone number was present in the letter I sent to each company, but only people
with whom I had spoken in years past actually called me to discuss the letter I
sent.

I received what appeared to be automatically generated responses
from 24 companies – the kind of email that says, “We got your note, we’ll get
back to you within 48 hours (or some such).” And like I said, one company’s
representative called me right away, and two more called me within a few days,
and about five more responded within days with a personalized response. But two
weeks later, six of the companies who responded with these automatic responses
still have not gotten back to me. At least (most of them) provided toll-free
phone numbers to call if I was interested in getting a quicker response.

Of the 19 companies whose responses I have not yet
described, a few were so generic as to be completely useless, or suggested that
I call the company instead. For example:

“We would be happy to speak to you about this matter… Our
Customer Care Specialists may be reached at 888-XXX-XXXX.”

How about this one? It sounds like the company is addressing
my inquiry, because it uses some of the same words in my inquiry, but it
doesn’t answer anything I asked! “We
appreciate you bringing your concern regarding the canine Dilated
Cardiomyopathy and we are happy to answer your inquiry. Please know that as a leader in
pet nutrition, we stand behind the safety and quality of all our foods and meet
or exceed every major food quality and safety standard including those issued
by the FDA, USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and AAFCO. We also have not
been contacted by the FDA regarding any cases involving our products.” (The
response was longer, but didn’t address any of the questions that I asked.)

By the way, of the three companies whose
representatives (including two company owners) who called me in response to my
inquiry, none had spoken with anyone from the FDA regarding the cases of DCM
that had reportedly implicated or mentioned their products. The two company
owners I spoke with told me that they had tried to reach someone at the FDA,
but had zero success.

I’m happy to report that a few companies did respond directly to my questions. The rest tended to refer me to statements on the company websites that they had already prepared in response to the issue well ahead of my inquiry. Those statements, of course, don’t necessarily answer my questions directly.

Try It Yourself

I’ll be trying to reach the companies again via their
toll-free numbers and will report on whether that effort is more or less
successful.

I will admit a bias toward companies that have phone
numbers on their labels and websites and email addresses on at least their
websites, to make it as easy as possible for consumers to reach them in case of
a dog food-related health issue. And of course, my bias is even stronger toward
companies who are staffed with knowledgeable people who can respond
appropriately and directly to inquiries in a timely manner. Don’t assume for a
second that this rules out all the so-called boutique pet food companies, or qualifies all the giant pet food
stalwarts.

Try it yourself! Write to or call your favorite dog food company and ask something simple, such as “Have you always included taurine as a supplement in your dog diets? Do you do so now?” or “Can you tell me how much taurine, or cysteine and methionine, is in (name of food you feed your dog)?”

If you ask the latter question – and they have an
answer! – make sure you ask also whether the amount is expressed “as fed” or on
a “dry matter basis.”

Let us know how it goes!

The post Mixed Results from Reaching Out to Pet Food Companies About DCM appeared first on Whole Dog Journal.

Soon You’ll Be Able To Take An Uber With Your Dog Every Time

As dog people, it’s impossible to imagine a situation where seeing a dog doesn’t thrill us. However, many ride share drivers beg to differ. Allowing passengers’ dogs into their cars can upset other riders or irritate anyone who’s allergic. Not to mention, as we all know, dogs can be pretty messy. That’s not preferable when your car is your business.

Finding a ride for ourselves and our pups isn’t always easy. Often drivers will cancel rides as soon as they see one of their passengers is a dog.

In particular, ride share company Uber’s existing pet policy requires drivers to only accept service dogs as passengers. Still, some individual drivers will accept canine passengers. Many more will not. That’s why Uber recommends riders contact their driver in advance to let them know they’d like to bring an animal with them.

Soon, however, that’s all going to change when Uber launches a new in-app service in the U.S. called “Uber Pet.”

Yep, it is what it sounds like. By selecting this option, riders will be guaranteed a match with a driver who’s totally on board with dog passengers.

Technically Uber Pet will only be new to the U.S. The service is already available in several Latin American countries, including Brazil and Mexico, in addition to a few Asian markets.

Starting October 16, people riding with Uber in Austin, Denver, Nashville, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Tampa Bay will have access to the new “Uber Pet” option in the app. When selecting this option, riders agree to pay a surcharge ranging from $3 to $5, depending on the city.

Uber says most of this surcharge will go directly to the driver. Because of this, the company expects more drivers will want to accept rides that include animals.

In the app, all drivers are opted into accepting Uber Pet rides by default, but they are allowed to opt out of them in their app preferences.

Ideally, Uber Pet is meant to improve communication between drivers and riders so people expecting rides with their pups aren’t rejected and drivers aren’t suddenly surprised with a canine passenger. Uber hopes this will reduce the number of cancelled rides and disappointed passengers.

If Uber Pet isn’t in your city yet, don’t worry: drivers are still required to take service dogs and some will even take non-service dogs if asked in advance.

With the high demand for pet-friendly rides though, I’m betting it won’t be long before the service makes its way across the whole country.

H/T: Venture Beat

The post Soon You’ll Be Able To Take An Uber With Your Dog Every Time appeared first on iHeartDogs.com.

PPG Summit 2020 Sessions: Building Stronger Teams for the Shelter

© Sherry Woodard

BARKS presents session details from PPG’s 2020 Summit and Multi-Species Workshop Events in Kanab, Utah

Session Details:
Presenter: Sherry Woodard
Session Title: Building Stronger Teams for the Shelter, Community, Rescue, Adoptions, Daily Care and Enrichment
Session Type: Lecture (1.5 Hours)

In the shelter environment, strong teams are important to expand every aspect of your work with animals and the community. A limited number of staff can only do so much. You can increase your effectiveness by creating teams composed of staff members, community partners and volunteers, so much more can be accomplished.

This session will explore how to build strong, effective teams. As a result, sharing our skills, knowledge and enthusiasm will increase what we can offer both to the animals and the community.

Learning Objectives:

  • Utilizing staff and community members working together to focus on interventions so that animals may not have to enter the shelter.
  • Using strong teams to address behavior concerns, and enhance daily care and enrichment.
  • How to develop stronger teams of staff, volunteers and community partners in order to increase adoptions.

PPG Summit 2020 will take place in Kanab, Utah and offer two unique programs:

Program 1: The Three-Day Summit:
Monday, September 21 – Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Program 2: The Five-Day Summit + Skills Workshop:
Monday, September 21 – Friday, September 25, 2020

Event theme: Collaborative Care and Enrichment – Creating Partnerships for Positive Results / 15% Early Bird Discount and payment plans available if you sign up before January 31, 2020.

Quick Links
Event Schedule
Workshop Groups
Presenters and Workshop Instructors
Sponsorship Opportunities
Register

Over 45 Dogs Rescued From Hoarding Situation In Ohio

Animal hoarding is a terrible phenomenon. Vice reported that there are between 900 and 2,000 cases every year in the United States, affecting around 250,000 animal victims. In many cases, however, the people who hoard animals have certain mental conditions and believe that they’re helping the animals.

Animal hoarding, after all, isn’t just having a lot of animals at home if they’re all properly cared for. Hoarding by definition requires a person to be unable to properly house or care for their animals which can lead to neglect, disease, and death.

This is the sad story behind a hoarding situation in southern Ohio. A good samaritan had been taking in stray dogs dropped off at his home. Eventually, he became in way over his head without the help or finances necessary to care for this many dogs. Ultimately, this led to unsafe conditions for the dogs.

The shelter near the home simply doesn’t have the budget or staff necessary to care for this many sick dogs at once, which is why an Akron, Ohio based rescue, One Of A Kind Pet Rescue, stepped in. OOAKPR sent literal truckloads of volunteers to southern Ohio. They ended up taking in over 45 dogs.

URGENT PLEA!! EMERGENCY CASE!!!! This weekend, staff and volunteers from OOAK will travel to rural Ohio to rescue 45+…

Posted by One of A Kind Pet Rescue on Thursday, October 10, 2019

The photographs of the rescued dogs are upsetting to say the least.

According to OOAKPR, some of the dogs had contracted sarcoptic mange and infected all of the dogs. Also known as “scabies,” these are mites that burrow deep below the skin and make dogs severely itch and lose hair. It can also be transferred to people. Sarcoptic mange is treatable,  but treatment is expensive.

Mission complete. All dogs collected, accounted for, and ready to start their road to recovery ❤️

Posted by One of A Kind Pet Rescue on Friday, October 11, 2019

The Rescue took to posting on Facebook and called for help of all kinds, from crate donations to money towards the cost of the dogs’ treatment. Fortunately, this was a very effective tactic. People from all over the country responded to the post. One kind soul even donated space for OOAKPR to house more of the recovering dogs. So far they’ve raised over $7,000.

Still, Mauresa Tosatto, the rescue’s dog manager, told Ohio.com this case is costing the shelter at least $200 a day in medical expenses.

There are no words to describe what took place at One of A Kind today. We laughed. We cried. We vomited. Some of us…

Posted by One of A Kind Pet Rescue on Friday, October 11, 2019

The large scale rescue is on top of the 150 to 184 dogs OOAKPR already takes in every month. The organization has about 60 full and part-time employees and dozens of volunteers, but they plan to hire two more to help with the volume.

While the dogs recover, they’re not available for adoption. The Rescue announced that once the pups are ready, they’ll be holding a big Adoption Party. So if you’re in the Ohio area, I can’t imagine you’ll ever go to a better party than that!

You can also follow their page @OOAKPR on Facebook to see updates on the dogs’ condition and availability, or just to help them out with those crazy costs.

H/T: Fox8, Ohio.com

FEATURED IMAGE: @OOAKPR/Facebook

The post Over 45 Dogs Rescued From Hoarding Situation In Ohio appeared first on iHeartDogs.com.