US & Canada

US dog food recall after euthanasia drug found

a dog in hospital Image copyright Nikki Mael/ ABC
Image caption All four of Nikki Mael's dogs were put in intensive care, but one died

A US pet food company says traces of a drug used to euthanise animals have been found in some of its products, leading to a large recall.

Evanger's Dog & Cat Food issued the recall after detecting traces of pentobarbital, a sedative normally used to euthanise dogs, cats, and horses.

The voluntary recall affects five dog food products which had been sold in 16 states, according to officials.

One pug named Talula died after being fed the canned food on New Year's Eve.

Three others in the same Washington state household all began acting strangely after being fed the food, Evanger's Hunk of Beef with au jus, owner Nikki Mael told US media.

Mrs Mael told KATU: "I fed them one can and within 15 minutes, they were acting drunk, walking around, they couldn't … they were falling over".

Talula, who had eaten most of the food, died, but the other pugs - Tito, Tinkerbell and Tank survived after being rushed to the veterinarian's office.

Evanger's Dog Food paid for Mrs Mael dogs' medical bills, as well as two others', and donated to an animal shelter in Talula's honor.

The drug, pentobarbital, was discovered following a post-mortem examination at Oregon State University.

In addition to being used on animals, pentobarbital has been used in a cocktail of drugs to execute prisoners in at least 14 states, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

In a statement the company said: "We feel that we have been let down by our supplier, and in reference to the possible presence of pentobarbital, we have let down our customers."

Image copyright ABC
Image caption Evanger's estimates that more than 100,000 cans of the possibly-tainted dog food have been sold since illnesses were first reported

Evanger's, who say they use only US Department of Agriculture-approved beef, added that "something like this seemed impossible".

After forty years they have" terminated" their relationship with their meat supplier, which also supplies to other pet food companies.

The source of the contamination is still unknown, and the company says they will continue with their investigation.

According to their website, Evanger's is the "the only family-owned and operated pet food cannery in the United States".

This is the Illinois-based company's first recall in its 82 years.

The company estimates that about one million cans of Hunk of Beef, its most popular dog food, are sold in the US each year.