FDA Opens Investigation After ABC 7 Reports Exposed Euthanasia Drug Found In Dog Food

The FDA has launched an investigation after traces of euthanasia drug were found in dog food.

According to a report by WJLA, traces of euthanasia drugs were contained in dog food that caused five dogs to have instantaneous adverse reactions. One of the dogs died.

On New Year's Eve 2016, Nikki Mael's family celebration drastically changed into a panic. Just a few minutes after feeding her five dogs with a can of Evanger's pet food, the pooches began behaving in unusual behavior. She immediately rushed them to the vet.

fda opens investigation after abc 7 reports exposed euthanasia drug found in dog food

Mael told a reporter:

"Nobody should have to go through what we went through. Nobody. Not fair. I mean, I would give anything to see Talula again."

After feeding the dogs, Mael said that the dogs started "falling over," "running into the walls," and "convulsing."

The vet couldn't explain why the dogs behaved in a distressing manner without first conducting an analysis. But a few hours later, the vet told Mael that one of the dogs, named Talula, won't make it.


Desperate to know the answers, the family sent the remainder of the pets' food to a specialized lab and drove Talula's body to a veterinary pathologist for a postmortem examination.

After testing the samples, the specialists revealed that the food contained poison. But not just any poison. It was the lethal drug pentobarbital.

fda opens investigation after abc 7 reports exposed euthanasia drug found in dog food

Mael said:

"Poisoning from the dog food. That's what killed her."

Pentobarbital is a lethal drug commonly used to euthanize cats, horses, and dogs. However, this deadly toxin isn't permitted to kill animals that are part of the food supply.

Susan Thixton, a pet food consumer activist who's been studying the pet food industry for decades, said in a statement:

"Pet food violates federal law, is openly allowed by the FDA to violate federal law, billion dollars a year companies are making profit selling illegal adulterated products to unknowing consumers in the US every day."


"Consumers have no information. A consumer has to become a private detective to learn what's really in their food."

After testing another 62 samples of wet dog food from over two dozen brands, researchers found traces of the toxic drug in one particular dog food brand, the Gravy Train.

Fifteen cans of Gravy Train were tested, nine of which contained pentobarbital.

Gravy Train is manufactured by Big Heart Pet Foods and owned by Smucker's. And according to Nielsen statistics, it accounts for over $40 million of its annual revenue.


Big Heart also produces other dog and cat food products, including Meow Mix, Milk-Bone, Kibbles'n Bits, 9 Lives, Natural Balance, Pup-Peroni, Gravy Train, Nature's Recipe, Canine Carry Outs, Milo's Kitchen, Alley Cat, Jerky Treats, Meaty Bone, Pounce, and Snausages.

So, how did the pet's food come into contact with a potentially lethal drug?

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, chief scientific officer for The Center for Canine Behavior Studies and former director of the Animal Behavior Program at Tufts University, said:


"It comes from the euthanasia of animals using that euthanasia drug."

"So, these animals could be dogs, they could be cats, they could be horses -- but how is it getting into the pet food? If they say it doesn't come from dogs, cats, and horses, where does it come from? It doesn't come from outer space."

WJLA reported that when the FDA and Smucker's were contacted to comment on the test results, they declined to speak on camera.


Smucker's later released a statement saying that the company had launched "a thorough investigation" to determine the accuracy of the test results and the methodology used.