By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views
Every pet food manufacturer tests their food on cats and dogs. It doesn’t matter if it is a small high end company or a leading manufacturer with brands in most pet shops and supermarkets, they all test their food on animals. The manner in which these tests are conducted have been discussed numerous times. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation in the blogosphere. A handful of pet bloggers and I participated in Iams’ and Eukanuba’s Behind the Paw tour. I received no compensation for my participation, but my hotel, travel, and meals were covered. I went because I wanted to see how the food was packaged, and how the cats and dogs were treated.
The tour consisted of visits to Iams’ and Eukanuba’s Health & Nutrition Center, Leipsic Manufacturing Plant, and their headquarters. The first stop on the tour was the Pet Health & Nutrition Center. (I’ve been to the Hill’s plant. They are the makers of Science Diet. So, I had some idea of what to compare this facility to.)
To be honest, I get a bit nervous when I enter a facility with cats and dogs—whether it’s an animal shelter or a food testing site. Not knowing what to expect, and hearing a lot of rumors doesn’t help the situation. Thankfully, my fears—at both Hill’s and here at Iams and Eukanuba—had no foundation. All of the cats and dogs—there were several different breeds of dogs in all shapes and sizes—looked happy and healthy. All of the cats’ quarters were filled with sunshine, had comfy places for catnaps, and an attentive staff. Workers are on hand to exercise and play with the cats.
The dogs had indoor areas with doggie doors that led to grassy enclosed areas with plenty of toys. What surprised me was how quiet the dog area was; this was due to the open areas that let the dogs see who was passing by. When dogs hear sounds and can’t see people, they bark. So the noise level was low, and the tails were wagging. I got my dog fix during my visit.
The dogs and cats are carefully monitored by veterinarians and vet techs on staff. The cats and dogs are so healthy, that after a few years on the job, they are put up for adoption. They are quickly scooped up because of their excellent health and socialization. There is a waiting list for many of these pets, and if you walk through the halls, you will see bulletin boards filled with photographs of adopted cats and dogs in their new homes, and letters from happy adopters who boast about their furry family members.
A Trip to the Food Plant
The next day we arrived at the Leipsic Manufacturing Plant. Cleanliness is key. We had to wear sanitized covers over our shoes. The place truly sparkled. I wish my house was half as clean as the plant. In the distance, I saw an empty bag fall off a conveyor belt and onto the floor. Within seconds someone picked up the bag and put it in a recycling bin. So if something touches the clean floor it isn’t clean enough to use.
I know many of you have seen the video produced by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) that claims to have “undercover” footage of Iams testing on animals. It was taken in either 2003 or 2004. I have seen it too. I just don’t buy it. I swear there isn’t a hidden bunker anywhere. It just doesn’t make sense. The people at Iams, Eukanuba, and other pet food manufacturing plants want your cats and dogs to eat the food they produce. It makes no sense for these workers to force feed the food to their cats and dogs.
These cats and dogs need to like the food. It must smell good to them. It must feel good in their mouths. Yes, you read that right. They test for everything—even mouth feel. They want to make sure the pets in their care like the food so your pets will like it too. Just think about it.
Visiting these plants is eye opening. You get a good education about the types of food, how the products are made, and you get to see well cared for cats and dogs. Plus, you get to meet people who really love their jobs.