Archive for July 19, 2010

Delta sells its soul to Purina

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…

July 19, 2010 at 1:40 pm 14 comments


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