16 dead pets. Or thousands of dead pets. How many total pet deaths were caused by the massive pet food recalls?
Some news sources still quote that only 16 pets died from the pet food recalls. Other news sources and especially online pet news sites state that there were thousands of pet deaths from the recalls according to reports from pet owners.
The FDA says that there may never be an actual total to the death toll from the pet food recalls. The agency received 18,000 calls after the pet food recalls started in March. Half of these 18,000 calls claimed that their pets died from tainted food.
For the FDA to confirm the pet deaths, they need to have test results from pets’ tissue and blood samples. Unfortunately, they don’t have this information in most cases and are not able to determine numbers. Since there is no CDC for animals, investigations are not done to link illnesses to pet food products.
“The sad truth is that we will probably never know with any confidence the number of animals that fell victim to the pet-food poisoning,” says FDA spokeswoman Julie Zawisza.
From USA Today:
Other groups have provided insight into the numbers of deaths related to the pet food recalls:
The American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, which includes 1,300 medical professionals, is analyzing about 400 cases, mostly of dead pets. The cases include lab results. About two-thirds involve cats. There’s no way to know how many cases went unreported, says Barbara Powers, AAVLD president.
The Veterinary Information Network, which includes 20,000 veterinarians, received almost 1,500 death or illness reports from veterinarians, says Paul Pion, VIN president. VIN plans to follow 700 to 1,000 of those to see if medical data point to food. Pion says many cases probably went unreported. He and Powers estimate a death toll of at least 1,000.
Banfield, The Pet Hospital, a network of 620 hospitals, confirmed recall-related deaths of nine cats and two dogs out of 26 pets autopsied, says Nancy Zimmerman, senior medical adviser.