A request urging Walmart and Target to remove chicken jerky pet treats imported from China from the market “out of an abundance of caution” was met with a big fat ‘No’ today.
Retailers have been asked to respond to consumer demand for the withdrawal of the pet treats much in the same way retailers responded with the recent removal of “pink slime” from the market, despite the lack of a recall requiring them to do so.
The denials of Walmart and Target were not terribly surprising, considering retailers liability in matters related to pets is also big fat zilch, economically speaking.
The cold, hard truth is that when retailers weigh the economic risks associated with allowing the treats to remain on stores shelves, with their liability, they come out smelling like a rose. Their legal teams know that when it comes to pet products – no matter how many pets are injured or killed – the financial benefits of keeping the offending product on the market outweigh any economic loss they might incur as a result of a lawsuit.
Currently, in the US, the most a pet parent can ever be awarded for the injury or death of their pet is the value paid for that pet. Not the sentimental or intrinsic value, but just like a used couch, used pets aren’t worth squat in America’s legal system.
Equating something we become emotionally involved with to a toaster is an insult to people who view their pets as members of the family.
Aside from a landmark case won in Texas, which is heading to the Texas Supreme Court, pet parents cannot sue for the sentimental or intrinsic value of a pet.
That could change if the case in Texas holds up; other states could adopt similar laws. But it won’t if the Texas Veterinary Medical Association and American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), along with several pet-related industry associations (American Kennel Club, The Cat Fanciers’ Association, Animal Health Institute, American Pet Products Association, and Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council), have anything to do with it. They filed a brief in January with the 2nd Court requesting the court reconsider its decision.
Ironically, it is the AVMA that has the biggest beef with the case in Texas.
Why? One guess. The AVMA is petrified that should the law stand, vets, at least in Texas, would be held legally responsible for compensatory damages awarded based on the intrinsic or sentimental value of a pet – just as physicians are for their human patients.
And that, could unleash a sh*t storm unlike the veterinary community has ever seen. That is why the AVMA is concerned. And not for the cynical reasons that are popping into your suspicious mind right now.
Imagine, you are James Herriot, veterinarian loved the world over. Struggling to make ends meet in his small rural practice, devoted to his patients, and committed to spending his life helping animals and by extension, the people who love and care for them.
James will have to carry a whole new level of malpractice insurance, perhaps the same level as physicians to humans do. Trouble is, James doesn’t make the big bucks like docs for humans do. Hell, he’s lucky if his clients can pay him half the time. Not to mention he can’t start charging the same rates as the other kind of docs. James just can’t, even a vet as popular and well-loved as he is.
So, where does that leave poor James? Sh*t out of luck, that’s what. Not to mention his clients that will have to absorb some of that cost. Well, you can just see where that could go – down a very dark road where animals are left uncared for and worse, where they are neglected, abandoned or euthanized for economic reasons.
It’s a toughy; you simply can’t make sweeping assumptions like all vets are crooks who want to practice medicine willy-nilly, not liable for their boo boos. Or that all clients are sue-happy crack-pots looking for a free ride. Or those insurance companies don’t give a rat’s…ummm…maybe I’ll just step out of that one.
Perhaps, we could trust that the justice system would weed out the frivolous lawsuits and that justice would be meted out to only those truly deserving cases.
I realize that I am treading in water that is way over my head. I probably have no place even suggesting I have an accurate picture of the complexities involved. I don’t.
What I am certain of, as with any profession, any business, client, patient or indeed with any facet of life – there are no absolutes. Having said that, would I like to see pet food and pet product manufacturers held to the same laws as human food and product manufacturers? Of course.
If the Federal, Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) were enforced as it written for food for humans and animals equally, great. But it isn’t. Not even close.
So, here’s my beef – fix that and I won’t have to beg for the same safety and quality that human products enjoy, as the Federal law says animals are entitled to. Do that, and I won’t have to harangue pet food and animal feed manufacturers, retailers and the FDA.
Just give pets and animals the same protection as it is written in Federal law; close the loop-holes that allow pet food and animal feed manufacturers to drive Mac trucks full of garbage though – and I will quit. Tomorrow.
That would be awesome. Because, I could really use a vacation. As Bill Marler says, “put me out of business, please”.
Meanwhile, Walmart and Target, thanks for nuttin.
My letter to Walmart and Target (Poisoned Pets)
Randy wins big animal law case (Turner & McKenzie)
Texas court says pet dog has sentimental value (AVMA)
Medlen v. Strickland: Recovery on the Sentimental Value of a Pet (Defense Research Institute)
Secret FDA document reveals test results of chicken jerky treats (poisonedpets.com)
U.S. Senator Brown Presses the FDA Over Inadequate Response to Tainted Chicken Jerky Inquiry (poisonedpets.com)
With over 400 new reports of tainted treats, Senator Brown urges the FDA to speed it up…again (poisonedpets.com)
More dogs die as poisonous jerky treats remain on store shelves (poisonedpets.com)
Congressional Leaders Demand FDA Action to Protect Dogs from Poisonous Jerky Treats (poisonedpets.com)
the Complete Guide to Making a Pet Food Complaint (poisonedpets.com)
Additional Information on How to Report a Problem with Pet Food (poisonedpets.com)
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