Professional dog breeder Julie has been waging an one woman war against Nestle Purina for the past year.
This Kentucky woman blames the pet food company for the recent and puzzling deaths of her three dogs, two Bichon Frise and a Labrador Retriever.
Julie says that she even has evidence that proves Purinaâ€™s pet food products may be the reason for at least one of her dog’s death.
It all started last July when her 12-year-old Labrador Retriever, Stryker, died of liver complications. Julie said that Stryker was a healthy dog and suddenly his liver just shut down.
A month later, Beeble (pictured here), a Bichon Frise puppy, died unexpectedly. She was perfectly healthy, but then she started drinking water excessively, was vomiting and was lethargic.
Julie took her puppy to the veterinarian, and he put her on antibiotics. Beeble had a seizure later that night and had a hard time breathing. She was weak and couldn’t hold up her head. The veterinarian put the Bichon Frise on IV’s and checked her for canine flu because she had some nasal discharge. She died four days after she started IV treatments.
Two months after Beeble’s death, another one of Julie’s dogs died. Kayla, an eight-year-old Bichon Frise, was a healthy dog who participated in pet therapy. She suddenly began drinking water excessively. At first, Julie thought it may have been diabetes, but Kayla tested negative.
Now, Julie is on the mission of trying to find out why her three pets mysteriously died. She says that she may never know why Stryker died because she didn’t do an autopsy because at first, she thought it was old age.
But, she is determined to find out why Beeble and Kayla died. She doesn’t want anyone else to go through the same pain that she has been going through.
Julie didn’t test if there were toxins in the Purina dog food because her dog’s deaths occurred before all of the massive food recalls this year.
â€œIt didnâ€™t dawn on me to save the food so I could have it tested,â€ Julie said. â€œAnd Purina told me to throw the food away.â€
Julie did have autopsies performed on Beeble and Kayla at the University of Tennesseeâ€™s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Knoxville.
Pathologists at the University of Tennessee discovered problems with Beebleâ€™s liver that were â€œconsistent with exposure to a hepatotoxin such as aflatoxin.â€
Beebleâ€™s veterinarian, Dr. Douglas Mickey, said that the aflatoxins could have come from Beeble’s dry dog food.
â€œAflatoxins are known to be found in moldy grains, like corn that would be in dog food,â€ he said. â€œIf youâ€™re asking me if thereâ€™s a possible connection between the pet food and Beebleâ€™s death, the answer is: you canâ€™t rule that out.â€
Aflatoxins were not responsible for Kaylaâ€™s death, Dr. Mickey said.
Kaylaâ€™s autopsy report showed that she had â€œmultiple organ mineralization,â€ which Dr. Mickey said was likely caused by an adrenal problem.
â€œBut (the pathologists) couldnâ€™t pinpoint on the autopsy what caused the mineralization of all those organs,â€ Dr. Mickey said. â€œIt would be consistent with adrenal or kidney problems, but her adrenal glands and kidneys were fine. Kaylaâ€™s death has puzzled everyone who has looked at it.â€
Amidst the results from Kayla’s autopsy report, Julie is still convinced that Purina dog food led to Kayla’s death.
During the past two weeks, Nestle Purina’s insurance company has requested copies of her dogsâ€™ medical records and autopsy reports.
Julie said when the company called, they told her that her dogs’ deaths had nothing to do with the pet food recalls because her dogs died before when they happened. She also added that Purina downplayed her concerns when she first contacted the company last fall.
She said representatives kept on assuring her that there were never any adverse effects from their food. The company sent her letters of condolences with samples of their pet food. This made Julie even more frustrated because she didn’t want Purina’s food. To her, that was why her pets died in the first place.
Julie said the only reason that Purina just recently contacted her is because they have realized that there is something wrong with their food.
A spokesman for Purina said the company is simply following up with Julie and this demonstrates Purina’s commitment to their customers.
â€œWeâ€™ve been in contact with this consumer since last September and since weâ€™ve worked with her that long, we like to follow up on the process,â€ said spokesman Keith Schopp. â€œWe would want to gather the appropriate documents and any other records that we could look at and then take the appropriate action. As part of our standard operating procedure,â€ he added, â€œwe would initiate a claim and investigate a matter further if a consumer requested compensation above product replacement.â€
Schopp said he hasn’t seen Beeble’s autopsy reports which showed that she was exposed to aflatoxins. He answered that there are no aflatoxins in their US products. He said that the company’s veterinarians will look at the autopsy report and talk to Julie’s vets.
The spokesman also added that there is no connection between Julie’s concerns and the concerns from other breeders in regards to their Newfoundlands and their reproductive issues.
Julie continues to fight the battle. She said she contacted Purina because she didn’t want any other pets to die and pet owners to suffer the emotional loss. She doesn’t want money. She wants the company to test their food and apologize for her dogs’ deaths.