Friday, March 23, 2007


Food safety, along many other things in this country, has become a major problem. For example, there was the problems with spinach. It seemed the origin of the problem was in the water used in growing these plants, with cattle manure the culprit, carrying dread bacteria into the irrigation systems.

Now, spinach is back on the shelves, although there does not seem to be a long line of customers clamoring to purchase it. So the spinach farmers lost a great deal of money, but more importantly, they lost the confidence of the public.

This is not the only example of tainted food, by far. Any item you pick up in the supermarket, any meal you order in a restaurant, could be the carrier of this or other bacteria and could mean days or weeks of illness for you or your family, perhaps even death. The truth is, we just don't know what is safe to eat.

But nothing has hit the country as hard as the problems with pet food. The disappearance of those cans and boxes of pet food from the shelves has been like a kick in the gut to anyone with a dog or cat. People are busily perusing "lists," lists that supposedly record those pet foods that are unsafe to eat. However, comparing lists, some foods may be on one list and fail to be on the other. This leaves pet owners in a quandary.

Many folks are boiling rice, with a meat and vegetables tossed in, in a concoction that looks as unsavory as it may taste. A friend of mine urges caution with this as a steady diet, since rice is thought to cause constipation and is usually only given to a dog that has diarrhea or stomach problems.

Other than setting the family pet a plate at the table, there are few avenues to follow if the packaged food is unavailable. We are told that the problem lies only with the canned or gravied varieties of pet food, but being the suspicious people we have become, any dog food or cat food comes under a cloud of suspicion.

Jedi is fond of nosing through garbage, if she finds a chance to do so. So far, her stomach has not complained of the various tidbits she has wolfed down before I discover what she is doing and call her away. Maybe it is safer to allow you dog to dine on dried carcasses found in the woods, or old sundried pieces of meat. Who knows? Jedi can spot a chicken bone that is a half mile away from where we are walking. At various times, she has found one and chomped on it, with me prying at her teeth and ordering her to spit it out. It seems to be a game we play, and she eventually spits out the bone without swallowing it.

Pets are entirely dependent upon us for their existence, unless they are abandoned to a lonely, frightened, dirty and unkempt life as a stray. We look after their safety...just as Jedi leads me to the door if the smoke alarm goes off...and it is up to us to feed them, since forays through the garbage dumps are not allowed. They trust us implicitly. To them, we are the sun, the moon and God, or more prestigious even than God. We could never, ever be as wonderful as our pets think we are. And our pets are the only creatures on earth who will ever feel that way. To them, we have no faults. We commit no sins that cannot be forgiven, other than failure to take them on ten walks daily.

This massive betrayal of our family pets is a colossal failure of our system. It shows the stupidity and carelessness of our managing agencies, those agencies that we pay heavily to watch over us. These food and drug personnel, these environmental inspectors, these guardians of the public health have failed us in a way that tugs at the heartstrings and withers the soul.

For God's sake, it shouldn't be assure the safety of our dogs and cats, make sure the petfood is bacteria or virus-free. It is bad enough to realize that dog and cat food, for the most part, is composed of items that are enough to make you sick....the dead bodies, the diseased bodies, the decayed bodies, etc. Those dreadful "D's", dead, diseased, decayed.... Even cancers, tumors and warts are tossed into the mix. And, using this debris, this stomach-turning, stinking, miserable mess...they charge us top dollar and claim they are serving up beef or chicken or pig, ignoring the fact that any beef, chicken or pig palatable to anyone or anything is not included in that can or box or packet.

It might be too much to suggest that some American workers within these expensive agencies or profitable companies test the food they are preparing for our family pets. One wouldn't want to suggest that they try it out on their own family pets. That would be cruel. Nor do we want to insinuate that perhaps the Bush dog, Charlie, or the dogs and cats of those in Congress be put to the test, simply because it is their ineptitude and stupidity that has brought the laxness of these governmental agencies, the yawning indifference to those deadly bugs that can put us all away, nestled in our food and in our pets' food.

To those people watching their formerly healthy dogs or cats dying a slow, lingering and painful death, all of this might make some sense.

Hit our pocketbooks, people. Take our money. Leave us with hardly enough to scrape by with, even when we budget desperately, trying to balance the rent bill and the fuel bill. But leave our animals alone. They are precious, look up to us for protection, and it is up to us to keep them safe. If lawsuits will do it, so be it! If companies go bankrupt, so be it! But every family pet in this country deserves better than this fiasco. It had just better not happen again!