Man Reimbursed For Pet Food Recall Vet Bills After Contacting Newspaper

Natural Balance

Many pet owners who have been affected by the pet food recall have been stuck with large vet bills. Trying to get any kind of compensation or more so a compensation that is worthy of what they and their pets have gone through has been extremely difficult for pet owners. We are seeing a pattern that pet food companies will be more cooperative when there is media pressure or attention brought to the issue.

One pet owner decided to get a little help. In mid-April, his dog, Buddy, had become seriously ill and had to be hospitalized from eating recalled Natural Balance’s Venison and Brown Rice dog food. Fortunately, Buddy is recovering although he is still two to three pounds under his adoption weight. The dog’s vet bills totaled more than $2,700 from eating the recalled food.

Buddy’s owner contacted Natural Balance numerous times to have them compensate him for all of their vet expenses and had sent them the necessary paperwork and claim information that the company requested. Natural Balance’s insurance company responded and said that they could only reimburse him for only $150, the “value” of the dog (his adoption fee). To Buddy’s owner, this was simply not enough and he thought that all of his bills should be reimbursed. He then wrote San Jose Mercury News’s Action Line reporter Dennis Rockstroh to see if he could help with his situation.

We have racked up more than $2,700 in vet and hospital bills and were assured by the folks at Natural Balance that we would be reimbursed for ALL our expenses in a timely manner.

It is now June and we are still waiting.

I have been in contact with several people at Natural Balance on an ongoing basis.

They have been very helpful and understanding of my situation and I appreciate that.

But the bottom line is Natural Balance has yet to compensate us for our medical claim. This despite the fact that we have provided the company with copies of all our medical records, a sample of the tainted food and all other information that they have requested.

I have also been in contact with the insurance company that represents Natural Balance and was recently told that we may ONLY be compensated for the “value” of the dog or in our case the adoption fee we paid when we rescued Buddy, about $150.

In my opinion, that level of compensation would be unfair and unacceptable to me and to others with pets that have been adversely affected by the tainted pet food products previously sold by Natural Balance.

Don Fernandez
San Jose

The reporter’s response after the jump.

From San Jose Mercury News:

A: I contacted Natural Balance for you, Don, and I have good news.

Company spokesman Greg Kay said that they have contacted you and have worked out a solution that includes paying for Buddy’s “reasonable medical bills.”

We’re not sure what “reasonable medical bills” mean, but we hope that means all of the vet bills that Don Fernandez has paid due to the recalled Natural Balance pet food and not what Natural Balance feels is “reasonable”.

23 Responses to “Man Reimbursed For Pet Food Recall Vet Bills After Contacting Newspaper”

  1. Mrs. P. says:

    It will be interesting to see how this story resolves. What does this insurance company think are reasonable bills? All these big companies- PF, insurance, etc., scare me the way they view customers.

  2. Ruth says:

    Hmmm……Reasonable would be the FULL amount of medical bills and
    throw in the adoption fees. Just sounds like a lot of double talk. And how long is it going to take them to resolve it. More and more spin by the pet food company and their insurance adjusters.

    “Reasonable medical bills” just sounds insulting!!

  3. pat says:

    Typical doublespeak; say what you must say to get rid of the reporter, but be careful to qualify your terms. Mr. Fernandez should keep pounding Natural Balance through the media until he gets total compensation. I would urge others who have lost pets or have pets that were made ill by poisoned food to do the same. Money is the only thing that these companies value, and we’ll only get reform if we take money away from them when they act in ways that harm us and our pets.

  4. Pukanuba says:

    I expect this from the OTHER PF companies but I’m surprised & a little disappointed that NB has adopted the same attitude as the rest of these SOBs. They will not accept the responsibility no matter how much proof you have that your animal is sick from THEIR crappy food.

    I know it’ll never happen but many of us, who were feeding a dry version of a canned food that was recalled, have vet bills that we shouldn’t have (a lot of us flew into a panic figuring the dry was the next to be recalled so we paid for all kinds of tests to be run… we know, most never were but SHOULD HAVE BEEN) & those should be repaid by these crooks. It’s nowhere near what the rest of you have paid & still either lost your pet or they are still very sick……which breaks my heart. I just think that ANYONE who incurred expenses due to this recall should be reimbursed. If it weren’t for their carelessness, irresponsibility & greed, none of us would be out this money.

    I won’t even go into the medical costs for me with all the stress, anger & worry of the past three and a half months… meds to pay for, all with money I don’t have. I think about these CEOs collecting their millions plus their bonuses & I see red. I know there isn’t anything I can do but I did promise myself that not one of these companies would never get one red cent of my money ever again. I can only hope that enough of us will do that……would love to see their profits bottom out. No million dollar bonuses for the CEOs…….awwwwwwwwwwww, breaks my heart.

  5. Carol says:

    Hats off to the Mercury News reporter. I contacted my local nbc affiliate on 3/18 here in RI and the reporter covered a story of my 2 sick cats and how I could not get through to MenuFoods. He called through to the media line at MenuFoods (website had not been changed as of then) on March 18th early afternoon and was told they WOULD reimburse any medical bills incurred I just needed to provice them with documentation. But when I called them myself to find exactly what they needed, finally getting through on March 20th at 4am, I got nowhere with the operator, she only confirmed my food was on the list—no kidding! I called back and finally was told to wait for a call from Crawford &Co to which I did 3 weeks later and then was told I would have 2 packets sent to me for the claims process but as we all know, the forms came out only a few days before the “court order” came out—the claims forms had a notation on them that they would continue the dialogue with us unless they had a court order prohibiting such—What a coincidence, huh? Unfortunately they have all mu info. The reporter of the Mercury News helped this pet owner more than he or she realizes!!! It is a shame that reimbursement for medical expenses has to be done this way. I understand that the companies do need some confirmation of the facts, but they have proven to me that the bottom line is more important than helping the animals they made sick—don’t they realize that this will further allienate pet owners in the future from buying any product from them? I think that there are enough of us “out of control” pet parents to keep this in the media both local and national so I only hope some good comes of this for us affected.

  6. pam says:

    reasonable medical bills would be all of them plus future care relating to his poisoning since their food caused it!

  7. petslave says:

    So this is what it’s going to be like. Each & every one of us that have had pets killed or desparately sickened by poisoned pet food will have to find a media outlet that will let us push our story until the company starts to sweat, THEN maybe they will do something about it??

    Insane, but hey if it works, get your pets’ stories out there loud & clear in all their sad, heartrending detail so this really affects the pet food companies.

    I guess their line of thinking is “take care of these really public cases, have the media put out nice stories about how we reimbursed them, & let the rest drop”. They are probably counting on just a few people bothering to come forward with their stories, & crossing their fingers we will go away quickly.

  8. Carol says:

    I wish the press would catch onto these type of stories so the public that wasn’t affected by the recall and may remember the inital PR releases by these companies (that they would take care of those affected) know the real story. Weekly I talk to someone who assumes that all of us have been helped by the particular pet food company –and when they realize this has not happened for the majority, they too become outraged—-maybe outraged enough to boycott companies too! I have tried many times to email the lack of “help” by the pet food companies to us—CNN, MSNBC, CBS, Lou Dobbs, but I haven’t heard anything about it!
    There’s a saying I’ve heard from years ago and remember it at times like this—the squeaky wheel gets the oil first—(at least that’s how I remember it!)

  9. Steve says:

    And don’t forget while your battling the Pet Food Brands for your due compensation.

    Monday, July 02, 2007

    Saying “Made in China” should be considered a warning label when it comes to imported food, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Sunday renewed his call to strengthen the country’s food safety system.

    “I think the basic rule of thumb is this: You should buy local when it comes to food, if you can. You should buy American … and you ought to think twice before you buy imported food from China,” the Democratic senator said during a news conference outside his Springfield home.

    “At least for the time being, until the Chinese have assured us that the products they are exporting to the United States can live up to the standards of the United States, I would think twice before I’d buy these products,” Durbin added.

    Durbin’s comments came on the heels of news last week that federal officials discovered tainted seafood being imported from China.

  10. Lorie says:

    Looking For:

    The person who is fairly new who posted their cats were made sick by Fancy Feast Elegant Medley pet food.

    Mine were also back in March please respond.

  11. Mrs. P. says:

    That’s me. LadyCat is now in chronic renal failure after eating one can of Elegant Medley. She ate it in March.

  12. Lorie says:

    Mrs. P

    What flavor was it mine was chicken florentine, I still have 20 cans left i wanted to get it tested but it is like 6 different batch numbers all from the same plant 1160 do you know what numbers where on your can. If I knew which number for sure i could send it away

  13. Carol says:

    Sorry I couldn’t come through for you—I was also reading in the Forum as I just couldn’t remember where I had read the info. I’m glad you posted. Your kitties are adorable!

  14. Lorie says:


    Thank you, Lucy is a doll also thank goodness her lumps were okay. I remember the day I read you found them my heart broke for you how much can one family bare. How are the kitties doing?

  15. KimS says:

    Not shocked at all by NB. They are all actors when it comes to taking responsibility for the rice protein concentrate being put in their food in the first place. “They didn’t know” my foot!

  16. Carol says:

    Both cats are still with us. Jessica has what seems like chronic renal failure and has good days and bad days–we give her supplements and still syringe feed her when she appears in distress, but then seems to come around. Smudge (who was the sickest) finally started eating on her own after 2.5 months. She seems to have some brain damage? as she eats funny and is no longer afraid of Lucy and Harry who she used to hide from and has a completely different schedule and routine. Both cats seem to have made it though but every day I still worry that the slightest bit of whatever that posion was, may show up again and they would not survive another bout..Hope yours are doing fine.

  17. Mrs. P. says:

    Sorry the can went the way of recycles before LadyCat got sick. It was Chicken Florentine though. I know it was the damn wheat gluten in there, even though Purina says it wasn’t. Apparently the FDA is so stupid, they think lilies and antifreeze will put melamine in urine. Save the food, though. Maybe at some point we can figure out how to get it tested.

  18. Katie says:

    I’m glad Mr Fernandez is getting reimbursement from NB, hopefully for all his bills. But, it is also upsetting that so many have been completely ignored by pet food companies. It really makes me angry that you can only get some reimbursement from companies if you attempt to drag their name thru the press - than the companies PR mgt. comes to life. It would certainly have been more helpful if the media had gotten involved early on and told the many stories of sick and dead cats and dogs. Pet food companies may have been forced to respond quicker and fewer animals would have gotten sick or died and maybe there would have been more monetary reimbursement.

    Than there are those of us who have had big vet bills for sick pets on unrecalled food because companies chose to hide in a closet in a state of denial. If the media had reacted, maybe those companies would have been forced to be honest.

    Will be interesting to see what happens - sounds like the PR machines are gearing up.


  19. Pukanuba says:

    To those of you posting about the code 1160 on a can of cat food……I put this in one of the threads on Itchmo’s forum because there was also talk about that code…..maybe it was all of you, don’t know for sure.

    I read somewhere that 1160 is the code for Menu Foods. I even wrote it down so I’d always know where those cans came from (& never buy them). I’m not sure if this is correct but I read that & then made a note of it.

    So sorry about your kitties……this is all so sad.

  20. Kiki says:

    Good Luck Buddy - Best Wishes For Regained Health!

    These companies are BEYOND PATHETIC….BOYCOTT!!!

  21. menusux says:

    BW says:
    April 19th, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    “I called Purina today, and spoke to several people, finally a supervisor regarding the post on Itchmo about Nestle Purina having a big petfood processing plant in China. The first two people denied this, and said that it was absolutely all processed in the U.S. Then the supervisor denied it also. It didn’t seem that she was intending to lie to me, she was very nice. I think she was uninformed. I read her the article about the Purina plant in China. She left, came back and said that information was inaccurate!
    I said I wanted to know how to decipher the number codes on the bottoms of the Fancy Feast cans so I would know where they were processed.

    “She was very helpful, I read her 5 flavors, and she told me that the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th, numbers on the bottom, give you the location of the processing plant for that flavor. Four of my flavors were “1160″ She said that is in Jefferson Wisconsin. Great! I said. Then I read her the numbers of the Flaked Fish and Shrimp Feast!!! “1828″
    “She was quiet, and said OH, sounded a bit shocked and then said, oh my it is processed in ( a very chinese sounding place!) I really think she was surprised. She put me on hold to go speak to someone and then she came back and she said that it was not processed in China, but it WAS processed in THAILAND!! After that, she seemed more prepared to believe that perhaps they did have a petfood processing plant in China too.

    “Anyway, I asked for codes for all 17 purina processing plants in the U.S.
    so I could check them out when buying my FF, and that I wanted to know the origen of all the ingredients too.
    She said she didn’t have that information, and could only look up the flavors I gave her the barcodes for, I only had 5 of those, but she said she would definitely send my information and request to their headquarters in St. Louis and have someone get back to me, hopefully with the information I wanted, but that it would take a while. (I am sure it will.)”

  22. Lorie says:

    Mrs P,

    Purina gave me the same BS story, that their food was fine and it was my 2 cats not just one cats age that was causing the issues. Like 2 cats become sick within 24 hours of each other due to age. PURINA sucks.

  23. Pukanuba says:

    The more I read, the angrier I become. Some of you are out an awful lot of money but most of us are out at least a few hundred for tests that we should never have had to do but for these jackasses & their search for the cheapest ingredients possible. Also blows my mind that they do not feel it is necessary to reimburse anybody. I just can’t imagine anyone being that cold…..& these people are beyond cold. I guess if you’re filthy rich & in your ivory tower, you could care less about the little guys. All your money, cars & big estates were bought with blood money. Many pets died so you could live in luxury. Go to bed tonight & dwell on that.

    I will never buy anything in a can or pouch unless I know for absolute certainty that it’s made by that company, not MF…….I wouldn’t feed that to my dog even if I got a free year’s supply. I think that it’s not only MF but the big PF companies that still have toxic food out there & I’m sure they know it. What do they care? I can only hope that we can affect your profits & bottom line……maybe then you’ll care.

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