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PET FOOD CONCERNS CONTINUE VETS, STORES ADDRESS RECALL WORRIES.

Byline: JUDY O'ROURKE

Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA -- In the midst of a nationwide pet-food recall, local stores have yanked products from the shelves and veterinarians report a deluge of calls from worried pet owners.

About 100 brands of widely distributed dog and cat food have been implicated, and the number grows daily. PetSmart, Petco and Wal-Mart are among the chain stores that have tossed out products in Santa Clarita. Managers at many smaller stores declined to comment.

"There are signs up on the shelves and suggestions for alternative brands we know haven't been affected by the recall," PetSmart spokeswoman Michelle Friedman said.

Wal-Mart red-flags registers for items that might have escaped detection. "When the cashier scans the item, there will be an alert that pops up to (tell) the cashier that this is a recalled item," Wal-Mart spokewoman Jami Arms said.

At the Petco store in Saugus, about five brands of canned wet food and pouches of some wet-food samples and snacks were dumped. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, four companies have voluntarily recalled products: Menu Foods Inc.; Nestle Purina PetCare Co.; Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc.; and Del Monte Pet Products. The FDA suspects wheat gluten from China contaminated the foods. Dry food bought from vendors was safe, but one local animal shelter dumped hundreds of cans of donated food.

"As soon as we found out, we became proactive," said K. "Beau" Beauregard, manager for the Lancaster Animal Shelter, which has dumped 132 cans of dog food and 551 cans of cat food since mid-March. The shelter's roughly 300 animals show no signs of illness, he said.

Seco Canyon Animal Hospital in Saugus has fielded hundreds of calls from worried pet owners. Fifteen dogs that tested positive for kidney damage were sent home with a special food additive, and one has been hospitalized for about a week.

"She came in in bad shape, but she's doing well," said Sarah McLarty, the facility's office manager.

Saugus veterinarian Gregory Ehrman treated two dogs that reportedly ate tainted food, but he was unable to help a cat that died.

"They had been drinking excessive amounts of water and urinating a lot," he said of the dogs. "One of the major things to understand is that probably millions of pets ate the food, and thousands have been affected. We don't know. Is it just dosage? Have the ones who've eaten a lot gotten sick, or are small batches more toxic than others?"

judy.orourke@dailynews.com

(661) 257-5255
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 4, 2007
Words:418
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