Delta sells its soul to Purina

July 19, 2010 at 1:40 pm 14 comments

When my friend Sharon forwarded this PSA from The Truth About Pet Food on the Delta Society’s recent decision to eliminate all pets on raw diets from their program my interest was piqued:

To recap this entire nutty situation, out of the blue the Delta Society (a non-profit organization that organizes and trains dog owners for volunteer visitations to nursing homes, hospitals, and similar) made the decision to ban all Pet Partners (certified pet owner/dog volunteer teams) from feeding their pet a raw meat diet. The decision, according to Delta Society, was based on scientific evidence that a raw meat diet causes the pet to shed (in feces) bacteria (such as Salmonella) that could put patients (those visited by Pet Partner teams) at risk. The Delta Society provided some clinical evidence (emphasizing the word some) to support their decision. Shocked and bewildered existing Pet Partners provided the Delta Society with a vast amount of opposing clinical evidence that showed dogs fed a kibble or can diet as well sheds (in feces) potentially risky bacteria (such as Salmonella). This opposing clinical evidence was ignored by the Delta Society. During the shocked and bewildered stage of this dilemma, it was discovered that a Purina Pet Food executive sits on the board of directors of Delta Society and the same Purina executive is applying for a patent that appears to seek control over all pet businesses involvement with pet charities. The Delta Society, despite the suspected connection, steadfastly denies that Purina Pet Food had any input into their decision to ban Pet Partners from feeding a raw meet diet.

Just when you think this situation couldn’t become more blatant bought and sold pet charity, I received an email from a former Pet Partner (an intelligent pet owner that made the educated decision to feed their pet a raw diet then ultimately decided the health of her pet was more important to her than her than following Delta Society’s new ban) sharing a nutty piece of information. She informed me that the new Delta Society Pet Partner banner (the harness type clothing that the dogs wear indicating they are a trained volunteer) now includes a Purina Pet Food logo. In other words, every Pet Partner will now be a walking advertisement for Purina Pet Food.

I understand that pets fed a raw (generally noncommercial) diet can shed bacteria such as Salmonella in their feces – but so do pets fed regular kibble diets. I would also hazard a guess that it is not uncommon for humans fed “normal” diets to shed potentially dangerous bacteria in their feces. Last time I checked – this is one of the reasons all hospitals require all staff and volunteers to practice good hygiene.

Given this information, one wonders why Delta has chosen to ban all dogs fed raw meat products from their program. But in an odd bit of inconvenient coincidence we find that Delta’s decision to ban raw diets occurred at about the same time that Purina – a major manufacturer of kibble diets signed on as a major financial sponsor of the group. Purina features an anti-raw diet “public service announcement” on their website. But Delta assures us that this had nothing at all to do with their decision.

Even though all Delta Pet Partners will now sport prominent Purina logos…

If that connection wasn’t eyebrow-raising enough, a new update from The Truth About Pet Food explains that Delta appears to be collaborating with Purina on the design of a particularly sleazy form of subliminal marketing cum social engineering:

Brenda Bax, Marketing Director for Purina Pet Food and Delta Society Board of Directors member has applied for a very unusual patent; “Methods for marketing corporate brands”.  The patent Ms. Bax is seeking is basically a means for Big Corporations to work through animal charities (use animal charities) to develop a specific marking plan to pitch their products.  Nothing new in marketing really, but what is puzzling and concerning is a pet food company wishing to patent a system where an animal charity works with a corporation for donations.

The Abstract of the patent Ms. Bax of Purina Pet Food…
“Abstract:  Business methods are provided for marketing and increasing sales of corporate products or brands by collecting information about one or more animal welfare organizations, collecting information from one or more consumers about animal welfare, and processing the animal welfare organization information and the consumer information to design a marketing program executable by the corporation that enables the consumer to interact with the animal welfare organization.”

[...]

I am confused and concerned.  Why would Purina Pet Food want to patent a marketing method associated with an Animal Welfare Organization?  Is this patent application a concern to all Animal Welfare Organizations that do not currently work with Purina Pet Food?  Does this patent provide Purina Pet Food control over all other corporations working with/donating to an Animal Welfare Organization?

Is/was Delta Society their first test market and the “wherein the animal welfare organization must meet a specified requirement to be a part of the marketing program” was the ban of pets fed a raw diet?

Marketing has become such an integral part of our lives that we tune most of it out. So companies with billion dollar budgets are constantly searching for new ways to sneak their message past our protective radar. In a world that is often characterized as being dominated by sleaziness – Purina and Delta appear to have taken things to an incredibly astounding new low.

Go to The Truth About Pet Food and read the whole, sad series. I’m afraid that this is the kind of thing we’re going to see more of in the future…

Entry filed under: dogs, health. Tags: , , , .

Glock or Flexi – which would you rather carry? Defying the laws of behavioral physics

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. YesBiscuit  |  July 19, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    *If* a Delta Society dog were to have an accident during a hospital visit, you’d better hope like hell that dog was fed raw food and not Purina – especially if you’re the designated clean-up person.

    I still want to know how the Delta Society plans on policing this. Will they sneak into your trees and photograph you sharing an apple with your dog in the backyard?

  • 2. Rob McMillin  |  July 19, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheep’s bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

  • 3. Luisa  |  July 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Holy crap.

    But seriously, if in the future a hospital patient contracts Salmonella from a Delta Society therapy dog, will the patient be able to sue Delta AND Purina? Because that might be cool.

  • 4. SmartDogs  |  July 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    “”MUST we really talk about such frightening things?”

  • 5. SmartDogs  |  July 19, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Cool and a hulluva LOT more lucrative!

  • 6. Viatecio  |  July 19, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    I second YesBiscuit: how exactly will the Delta society enforce this policy? It’s all too easy to just say that the dog eats kibble and just happens to not have a doggy odor, no dog breath, no gross teeth, etc.

    LOL at the second part too…I’d much rather pick up after a raw-fed dog than one on kibble. Even the higher-quality stuff my dog eats doesn’t make her piles smell that much better, but they are smaller.

    This must have been rumbling in some circles at least two years ago. I had met a TDI dog in my local library and I commented on how NICE she looked. Turns out that she was on a raw diet, mostly venison, and the handler specifically picked TDI over Delta because of something like this that might come along. (Funny, because we picked TDI over Delta over a completely different matter, and it’s STILL a good decision even today!)

  • 7. H. Houlahan  |  July 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Nevermind Delta telling you what to feed your dog — I’d quit over the effing corporate logo plastered on my dog.

    Apparently one PAYS for this privilege.

    Regular registration of a “pet partner” is $75. “Patron” registration is $150, $50 of which is tax-deductible, and this patron registration includes a vest. So I keenly surmise that they charge $25 for the privilege of whoring for Purina.

    Taking me back to the interminable discussion I had with a board member of a professional society to remain nameless about why I was not purchasing a conference t-shirt that was emblazoned with the logos of corporations that not only compete with me for business, but provide an inferior service that denigrates the profession.

    But those are our sponsors …

    Right. That would be the problem, no?

  • 8. HBA Ireland  |  July 19, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    This is crazy!

    A number of years ago, another big name in Pet Food was up to this sort of behaviour. It was really cloak and dagger stuff. Not allowing any other pet food names with organisations they sponsored, following members of the competition etc. It looks like Purina have learned to do this sort of stuff too now. Maybe they thing Pet owners don’t have the intelligence to decide for themselves, after their own research, what they want to feed their own pets.

    It could be that the Delta Society have been offer a great deal by Purina. Sadly, as a non-profit, they need the money, but are willing to change a few guidelines to suit their sponsor. Doing this in a commercial environment is one thing, but it’s sad to see a non-profit pressurised into this sort of thing.

  • 9. H. Houlahan  |  July 20, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Non-profit does not necessarily mean “poor.”

    Nor is it a stand-in for “not greedy.”

    Whenever the actual policy-makers in a non-profit are paid for their work, one has to be skeptical of the selflessness of their motives. It’s human nature to protect one’s job and attempt to advance in compensation and power.

    As well as when they aren’t paid but are in a privileged position to leverage for gain because of their powerful role in the non-profit.

    There are frank kickbacks, and “subtler” arrangements.

    I would not assume that the pressure cuts one-way.

  • 10. Carinthia  |  July 21, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Amusingly, Google generated an ad for Purina pet food when I viewed this post! I feed my dogs and cats raw food and have done since they were adolescents. I’d been conned before then by pet food manufacturers and still fed tinned food as well as bones. I noticed my dog did really stinky loose faeces on tinned food and yeah, I’d much rather pick up after a dog fed raw food!

    I’m disgusted at the way the greedy pet food manufacturers are enforcing their products on an unsuspecting public (including young vet students who train at Sydney Uni…I live in Sydney and apparently the vet faculty is more or less sponsored by Purina. You can imagine what they’re being taught about diet). Animals successfully evolved on a raw diet over millions of years; logic tells you cooked food and rubbish kibble every day isn’t going to be good for them.

    I’m not astonished the Delta Society has been brainwashed; but I’m sad that it has.

  • 11. Viatecio  |  July 21, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Carinthia, I’m in vet tech school right now…our nutrition course was a healthy mix of Purina AND Hill’s. And some Powerpoint lectures thrown in for good measure.

    Most vets though (at least the ones with whom I intern right now) recommend pretty much what the client can afford and keep consistent (trying to reduce the “I buy what’s on sale” excuse), since they KNOW already that Hill’s is expensive. Unfortunately, that leaves them with Purina and it’s range of crap to semi-quality, Iams or Eukanuba. I’ve roomed very few clients who feed more expensive stuff, and it’s mostly Wellness or Taste of the Wild they mention. No raw feeders yet.

    But OMG the sheer number of fat/obese dogs… :(

  • 12. Marfak9  |  July 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Instead of harness-type banners, Pet Partner dogs should be required to wear diaper banners with the Purina Pet Food logo. Everybody wins – no salmonella spread via feces and the Purina product placement is positioned right where it belongs. :)

  • 13. Viatecio  |  July 21, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    If ANY therapy dog decided to have a poo anywhere NEAR patient facilities indoors, I’d re-evaluate what exactly that dog is DOING anywhere near patients in the first place. It doesn’t matter if it’s a medical condition, behavioral, or what, the dog needs removed from the situation and not allowed back until steps are taken to either seriously potty-train the dog, fix the medical condition, or admit that an incontinent dog is a bit out of place in what’s supposed to be a clean environment.

    And that’s my thought of the day on this…

  • 14. The Saturday Bytes July 24, 2010  |  July 24, 2010 at 4:04 am

    [...] month an article on the Smart Dogs’ Weblog Did Delta Sell it’s Soul to Purina?, reopened the discussion with some provocative commentary from The Truth About Pet Food Blog [...]

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