The Raw Material of Misery
For years we’ve heard stories that seemed to be urban myths waring us that trace amounts of sodium pentobarbital in pet foods came from the rendered remains of shelter animals. Turns out – it’s probably not a myth…
Newspapers are reporting that euthanized shelter animals from every public shelter in Southern California are being sold to a disposal firm that boils, grinds and processes them into raw materials to be re-used in lubricants, polish, soap, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, gelatin and fertilizers. And it’s been going on for years.
County animal control officials said they weren’t surprised.
“I’ve heard of those potential uses for the animals’ remains,” said Brian Cronin, division chief for the San Bernardino County’s Animal Care and Control Division. “The reality is that those responsible pet owners who would elect to dispose of their animals through other means can choose to do so.”
Owners of euthanized animals can opt to have them cremated or buried at their own expense, Cronin said.
“Unfortunately, for government agencies … this is the most cost-effective option that’s available, and it’s my understanding that’s why every other agency uses this service,” he said. “In our priorities, we prefer to invest in those animals that are alive and in the shelter and in the community.”
I suppose that selling dead animals to a rendering plant is more cost-effecting than, say, burying them in a landfill. But dear doG in heaven – HAVE WE LOST ALL OUR CAPACITY FOR COMPASSION?
These animals end their lives in a strange and terrifying place, separated from the homes and families they’ve known, confined for endless hours, subjected to overwhelming noise and smell – and we can’t even give them the barest modicum of dignity by treating them as something more than a soulless raw material?
The disgusting details:
Bill Gorman, president of D&D Disposal, said the firm doesn’t conduct media interviews and declined to discuss what his company does with animal remains.
But the April 2004 report by Los Angeles County Animal Shelters detailed how euthanized animals are recycled in a process known as “rendering.”
“The remains are placed in large vats and heated to a high temperature in excess of 265 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point they become sterile and free of pathogens,” the report states. “Then a series of mechanical (processes) occur that separate the fat, liquid and proteins into separate collection systems.”
Since I installed a flock of chickens in my backyard, I’ve refused to buy feed from the only store in town that carries it – because the brand they carry includes rendered animal fat and protein in its ingredients. Instead, I drive to a rural grain elevator 40 miles away to buy another (fairly generic) brand that doesn’t. I’m glad now that I did – and I’ll also make double-extra-sure that the food and treats I buy for the dogs don’t contain rendered materials either.
Avoiding specific rendered materials in products like soaps, lubricants and especially (yikes!) pharmaceuticals could be more problematic. I’ll have to do some research to see what I can find on this.