A spokesperson for a rendering plant in Baltimore, Valley Proteins, said that recycling dead pets is “a very small part of the business that we don’t like to advertise.”. They process these animals as a public service and not-for-profit. I don’t understand the not-for-profit element of that statement. The company spokesman insists that they do not sell “dead pet by-products” to pet food firms because people are sensitive about it.
However, in February 1990 the San Francisco Chronicle carried a story in which it stated that stray cats and other animals are rounded up by meat renderers and ground up into pet food.
The person who brought the information to the newspaper said that the paper buried the story and changed it by deleting many of the charges that he had documented. A report for ABC television’s 20-20 was also watered-down. The person concerned then took the information to Earth Island Journal and asked to remain anonymous. He went into hiding as a result of threats against him.
The anonymous person reported that on the floor of a rendering plant there is a large pile of “raw product”. This is thousands of dead dogs and cats and other animals. In 90° heat the bodies are crawling with maggots. Two guys in small bulldozers load the mass of bodies into a large stainless steel pit at the bottom of which is a grinder. The bodies are mashed up and the raw product is blended into a certain ratio between different types of carcass and raw material.
It is then cooked at 280° for one hour. A yellow grease forms at the top which is skimmed off. The cooked product is pressed to squeeze out the remaining moisture turning it into a powder. Shaker screens sift out bits of bone and hair.
What remains is a source of protein and other nutrients for various products including pet food. For me this means dead cats are feeding living cats. Dead pet dogs are feeding living dogs. If proof were needed here it is. I always knew it happened.
One difficult to accept aspect of this already gruesome process is that the dead animals contain pesticides and other chemicals. I’ll focus on domestic cats. Sometimes cats are shoved into the pit with flea collars still attached. That means organophosphate-containing insecticides get into the mix. Then there are also euthanasia drugs. Apparently these drugs are also in the mix which strongly implies that many of the dead animals are euthanized cats and dogs from, I’ll guess, shelters.
The story about what happens to euthanized cats in shelters always stops at the moment of euthanasia. We never read stories about what happens to the dead body after that point. Many are shipped to rendering plants to feed other cats it appears.
You may ask why, for example, flea collars are not cut off the dead body. It is too costly for plant personnel to do this. This is a bulk business. Every year in the US 12.5 million tonnes of dead animals, meat wastes and fat are disposed of at 286 rendering plants.
We are told that the testing for pesticides and other toxins in animal feed is ‘incomplete’. Clearly, not enough care is taken to remove these toxins from the process.
Sodium phenobarbital (a drug used in pet euthanasia) does not degrade during the rendering process. I have focused on pet food and cats. This sort of pollution of the food chain obviously affects other animals such as livestock and I presume humans.
People are becoming more conscious and aware of pollution of all kinds. It is perhaps time for us to reconsider whether we want to go on rendering stray and domestic cats into pet food.
P.S. The source of this story is the website of a business selling premix to people preparing their own raw pet food: Feline Instincts LLC. My thanks to Sandy for pointing the page out for me.