Update on Pet Food Letters to Congress…
At least three weeks have passed since 54 pet owners representing 23 different States sent letters to their Representatives in Congress explaining their concern the FDA is violating Federal law. Only six Representatives have bothered to respond. Worse yet, none of the six Congressional Representatives addressed the issue that was reported in each letter; it’s almost as if none of the Congressmen/women even read the letter sent from concerned pet owners.
Even though the letter that each pet owner sent to their Representatives did not mention the pet food recall, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California went on and on about what Congress has done since the recall to improve pet food safety. Her response did not address (did not even mention) the subject of the letter sent to her, the FDA violating Federal Law.
Congressman John Linder of Georgia responded by addressing House Bill 2108, a bill to require mandatory recalls of tainted foods when the manufacturer doesn’t voluntarily recall a product (pet or human foods). The letter he received from a pet owner in Georgia never once mentioned House Bill 2108, yet that was the only issue he addressed in his response. His response provided no comment on the FDA violating Federal Law.
Senator Mitch McConnell from Kentucky as well discussed House Bill 2108, as well as the FDA Revitalization Act the Senator supported. The FDA Revitalization Act had a deadline of September 2008 to establish a pet food early warning system; which was ignored by the FDA (I guess the Senator didn’t bother to check up on the FDA after he supported the Revitalization Act). Senator McConnell ignored the subject of the letter sent to him, the FDA violating Federal Law.
Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina could only discuss House Bill 2108; his response to a pet owner in North Carolina ignored the subject of the letter sent to him, the FDA violating Federal Law.
Representative Nick Rahall of West Virginia could only discuss the pet food recall; but he did promise to keep the West Virginia pet owner’s thoughts in mind “should relevant legislation come before the House for consideration.” Representative Rahall’s response also ignored the subject of the letter sent to him, the FDA violating Federal Law.
Worst of all, Senator John Ensign of Nevada enlightened the pet owner that tainted melamine was the reason for the 2007 pet food recall; he bragged that the FDA successfully investigated the issue. The ‘worst of all’ part…Senator Ensign is a veterinarian. Senator/Veterinarian John Ensign’s response ignored the subject of the letter sent to him; he provided no comment regarding pets consuming pet food made from diseased and euthanized animals.
My own three Representatives in Congress received their letters on November 5, 2008; the day after the election. None of them have bothered to respond to my letter. Forty eight other pet owners have not received a response from their Representatives either. I also sent a letter to the Energy and Commerce Commission, which is the division of Congress that directly oversees the FDA. In three weeks, I have received no response from this department either.
Being a little discouraged from the above, I called the Washington offices of my three Representatives in Congress. When I expressed concern that my message had not been answered in three weeks, Representative Cathy Castor’s office assured me she would respond with a little more time. I’m doubtful. Senator Bill Nelson’s office couldn’t be bothered by my pet food issue either; even after my phone call I have received no response from the Senator. However, Senator Mel Martinez’s office seemed to genuinely care and spent a great deal of time with me. Unfortunately, the Senator’s office does not understand the issues correctly; I was told that the FDA Amendments Act, signed into law September 2007, was developed by Congress to provide pet foods with the same safety and quality protection measures as human foods. Sadly, this is not the case. The FDA Amendments Act does little to change existing conditions of pet foods.
I contacted the Florida Attorney Generals Office to ask for their help. After providing them with an explanation of the Federal Laws that are being violated with pet foods, I was told to contact the Inspector Generals Office in Washington. The gentleman I spoke with at this office was very interested in this information, and provided me with some hope. I was advised to write a letter to ‘the’ Inspector General – Daniel Levinson. He also stated it would be helpful if other pet owners would write letters as well, however he felt each letter should be personal (not a duplicate letter similar to what was sent to all Congressional Representatives). Should you wish to write a letter, the end of this article will provide his address, the laws violated, as well as the ‘evidence’ necessary to report to the Inspector General.
Unfortunately, I am doubtful that the Inspector General will pay any more attention to this than the Representatives in Congress have. I’m sending him a letter regardless.
Media attention seems to be necessary to pressure Congress to force the FDA to comply with the law. I have contacted the Washington Post; they didn’t seem too interested even though they are a newspaper that regularly reports on government misgivings. I also contacted the New York Times with the story idea; the only contact method I could find for the NY Times was email so I have no ‘feel’ to the potential. Next, I contacted the biggest paper in my area, the St. Petersburg Times. I got lucky; the newsroom reporter that answered the phone was a dog lover (she has six dogs). We discussed the issue for 30 minutes or so, and the next step was for her to run it by her editors. It’s been two days since our conversation and I have not been contacted for follow up information.
I am completely frustrated and uncertain of what to do next. As a law abiding citizen (I don’t even drive faster than the speed limit), it is mind boggling to me that no one of authority seems to care the FDA is violating a Federal law. Personally, I think Congress and the FDA trivializes this issue because it has to do with pets instead of people; as well, that no person has died because a pet food contained a diseased animal. In fact, both the Inspector General’s office and the reporter at the St. Pete Times asked me if anyone has become sick handling this type of pet food. Their question left me confused; does it only matter if a person dies or becomes ill? The law is the law; the FDA is violating, blatantly ignoring Federal law. Why doesn’t anyone other than average, everyday, law abiding pet owners care?
I would appreciate any input you might have for ideas of what to do next. A pet owner recently shared her frustration of Congress ignoring this FDA violation of Federal law, she told me ‘the squeaky wheel gets the oil, it’s just taking too long to find the oil’. If you have any ideas for the ‘oil’, please send them my way. Some ideas that have been shared with me so far are a celebrity attachment to this issue and perhaps the donated help of a big shot attorney that takes on big cases like these. If anyone out there has a celebrity second cousin or big shot attorney in-law, please contact them for me!
Seventy-Four million U.S. pet owners (or most of them) consider their pets as family; I doubt any of them would knowingly feed their ‘family’ a food containing a diseased or euthanized animal. Our pets are supposed to be protected by the law. As it stands now, nothing is going to change. Pet food will continue to be the dumping ground for waste materials, millions of pets will continue to be fed inferior foods all labeled as ‘Premium’, ‘Choice’, and ‘Healthy’.
The Serenity Prayer comes to mind with the frustration many of us are feeling with this issue…“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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