Priceless

A painful reminder came this past week of what I call, “the terrible summer.”  Of what happened to Bella and Kiwi.  All those wretched feelings I thought I’d sufficiently managed with such tight control, came again, flattening out my mood and my spirit, as if someone had driven a steamroller over my heart.

This past Monday, an update revealed a settlement had been reached in the Adkins vs Purina Class Action Lawsuit.  I will participate, not because of the money, which is simply reimbursement of vet costs for treatments, etc, but because at every corner since the girls unexpected deaths, I’ve written and talked to anyone who would listen about what happened.  I wrote to my congresswoman, my senator, the director of HHS, and the lead Vet within the FDA.  I’ve spoken to other vets, other dog owners, and even approached strangers perusing the aisles at stores, their hands hovering over the dog treats I too had purchased in good faith.  Finally, they were pulled off the shelves in January of 2013, and the relief I felt no other dog or dog owner would have to go through what I did was enormous.  No longer would I need to haunt the dog food/treat aisles, ever vigilant for the unaware pet owner.  The reason?  Traces of antibiotics not allowed in the US.  It didn’t matter to me the formal statement also said they had not been able to link this with the illnesses/deaths of our pets.

Much to the horror of many, they were allowed back on the shelves about a year later.

As consumers, here in the good ole US of A, we expect the best.  We’re reminded occasionally that even our strictest of standards can sometimes run amok when the media suddenly shares an outbreak of salmonella, or some other illness, from tainted chicken, hamburger, or lettuce.  As time has gone on, we’ve also come to expect the same high standards when it comes to feeding our pets.  Whether we go to a big box pet store, or a small holistic pet supply store and purchase something, the last thing we anticipate is for the item we’ve purchased to make our pets sick.  The very last thing we expect is for that product to make them sick enough to die, or be euthanized.

Sadly, this is exactly what happened.  To thousands of dogs.  To Bella and Kiwi.

In June 2010, I bought my first bag of treats.  In January 2012, I stopped feeding it to them when I learned other dogs were becoming ill, some dying.  Seven months later, this would happen to the girls.  Two dogs with different dams/sires, both diagnosed with Stage IV Kidney Failure. I remember their vet’s reaction.  “Could they have gotten into antifreeze?”  Tearfully, I told her about the jerky treats.  She was skeptical.  I brought her several articles.  She had no idea.  And then, she did what she could.

As I began to fill out all the claim paperwork, I had to go back and pick up their records for the treatment they’d received.  The valiant efforts to keep them with us dutifully cataloged.  Her notes said things like, “treatment seems insufficient.  Significant kidney damage.”  And, “levels are climbing, she feels bad this a.m.”  Or, “ate this a.m., not interested in food p.m.”  She’d been Bella’s doctor for twelve years, eleven for Kiwi.

In one area of the claim, it says “You may be entitled to a reimbursement for fair market value of your pet with supporting documentation.  Please enter that value here.”  I typed in the word that came to mind, “Priceless.”  The claim form would not accept it.  It said, “that value is not recognized.”

Perfect.  Because to me, no, their value cannot be recognized.

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