Ron Rosenbaum

Pet Food Rats: The Shame of an Industry

I woke up Saturday morning in Chicago and turned on Headline News, only to to learn to my horror that the pet food my cat (who’s back in my New York apartment) has been eating had only now been recalled by the manufacturer. In the previous week I’d been appalled by the criminal ineptness of the pet food industry in dealing with the potential poisoning of hundreds of thousands of beloved creatures. But I’d felt a bit smug because I’d switched my cat to a prescription only brand of cat food before I left.

Still the behavior of the pet food industry seems to me to be an example of everything that’s wrong with unregulated markets that privilege unrestricted greed over concern for the lives of their customers The failure of testing for rat poison? The delay in notifying the public even after belated testing led to deaths of test animals. Is there a circle of hell low enough for these evil creeps who continued to profit off people’s love for animals while keeping the pipelines of poison (and profit) open? Did they think no one would find out?

Still I must admit I’ve been all too complacent about the whole matter because (at least at first) it didn’t involve my cat’s particular prescription brand. (Bruno has little weight problem; he’s a bit “hefty” as my girlfriend gently puts it).

My own attitude almost reminds me of the epigraph to Nabokov’s Pale Fire. The one from Boswell’s Life of Johnson in which Dr. Johnson is ruminating about a crazed young man going around London shooting cats. And then reverting to thoughts of his own cat, Hodge, Johnson says (I’m doing this from memory: “But Hodge shan’t be shot. No, no, Hodge shan’t be shot.”

It’s some sad, beautiful fusion of wishfulness, wistfulness and dread. The possibility too horrible to contemplate. it sounds selfish, but it’s more self-protective.

But then this morning when I’m halfway across the country, to learn to my horror that my Hodge may be being poisoned at that very moment by the callous morons who can’t be bothered to care enough to figure this out til ten days or so after the first warnings were issued…You know who should be shot? Well I probably shouldn’t dwell on what should be visited upon these dimwit subhumans.

Fortunately I put in place an extensive multi-layered support system for Bruno before I left for Chicago. My sturdily heroic neighbor Larry Rosenblatt rushed over to remove the potentially poisoned food from Bruno’s hungry jaws. My cat care person, the saintly Christine Sarkissian is replacing it with safe food. Although with the pinheads who run the pet food industry, who can be sure what’s safe, since they take their sweet time squeezing every dime out of their customers from the sale of tainted food before troubling themselves to recall it. I hope they all get sued into bankruptcy and have to live on rat poisoned cat food for the rest of their no good lives. (Gee, am I angry about this or what?). And my gifted vet Dr. George Korin is going to take a sample of Bruno’s blood just to make sure that the absence of symptoms doesn’t mean some hidden injury has been done.

But I’d like to take a blood sample myself, from everyone of the pet food manufacturers who allowed this ongoing tragedy to continue to go on. Frankly I’d be surprised to find evidence of human blood in their veins. And if there is any, I hope it turns into red ink overnight.

Rat poison is too good for these rats.