There’s no smoking gun yet. Aminopterin (a.k.a. rat poison/cancer treatment/abortive agent) has been singled out so far as the most likely cause. In fact, Menu Foods has been quick to say that it is the “root” cause (Their PR machine is clearly on overdrive). However, the ASPCA and others are publicly questioning the logic that aminopterin is the root cause of these deaths. So let’s take this one step further…
Here’s what we know: after finding a deadly toxic agent in the wet food, the medical community cannot confirm this as the main cause of death. It’s a smoking gun that isn’t.
Let us see if we can put this in other (more graphic) terms: You are a firefighter, and you arrived at a house fire and after dousing the flames, you unfortunately find several victims. All are dead from the fire but they show no signs of smoke inhalation. Okay, if that wasn’t clear, I apologize, let me try again. You found several people frozen to death in the woods, but none have frostbite.
If the ASPCA is correct, that leaves us with three likely possibilities. We’ll examine each one after the jump.
The three likely possibilities:
- Aminopterin is not the ONLY cause of death
- Aminopterin is NOT the cause of death
- We don’t know enough about aminopterin
What if it’s scenario #1? (Aminopterin is not the ONLY cause of death)
This is the scenario that the ASPCA is cautious about. It would leave Menu Foods with a far smaller liability and a culprit to clean up the mess: “Foreign rat poison? A fluke accident!” For the public, and our pets, this is a horrifying scenario. If the media sweeps this story under the table, we’re left with a deadly toxin that no one will bother to find — that will continue to kill. Imagine what would happen if all airplane crashes were deemed “pilot error”, no one would bother to check for mechanical issues, and leave hundreds more dead to come. Devastated pet parents will continue to speak up, only to be labled as the ones “who cried wolf”. We would also never know what other foods have been contaminated with this other toxin. And it would take a disaster of equal or greater proportions for the media and authorities to look into the matter again.
What if it’s scenario #2? (Aminopterin is NOT the cause of death)
This is somewhat unlikely as significant amounts of aminopterin were found. But if for some reason, cats and dogs were actually not affected by the toxin (perhaps we may soon have new species at the top of the food chain), we’re back to square one. This should cause a renewed search for the “root cause” toxin — a less frightening scenario than #1.
What if it’s scenario #3? (We don’t know enough about aminopterin)
Specifically, what if we don’t know enough about aminopterin’s affects on pets? This is another likely scenario. The ASPCA says:
“…to be consistent with the effects of aminopterin, we should also be seeing a significant number of affected pets showing the accompanying signs of severe intestinal damage, as well as bone marrow suppression, including â€˜leukopenia,â€™ which is a serious reduction in white blood cells.”
It may be years before the debate is settled. The effect on our pets would depend on the reaction of the FDA. If the FDA would aggressively pursue a definitive scientific answer by funding researchers, the overall damage to our pets could be minimized. If the FDA decided to let the issue languish, companies such as Menu Foods would be able to spin future aminopterin-related deaths to their advantage.
Did we miss any other likely outcomes? Tell us.