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Shelters Feeling Impact After Dog Food Recalled Over Euthanasia Drug Fears

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Four brands of dog food under the JM Smucker Co. umbrella have been recalled after a Washington, D.C. TV station tested one of the brands and found traces of a euthanizing drug used on dogs, cats, and horses in 60% of the samples.

Shelters in our area are feeling the effects after having to throw out some of their food supply.

"All of our food, we run on donations," Terry Williams, volunteer at Almost Home Shelter and Rescue said. "All of these people take their money and time to buy the food and donate and now we`re going to be out of that food."

The AP reports that shipments of cans of Gravy Train, Kibble 'N Bits, Skippy, and Ol' Roy wet food have been pulled back after pentobarbital was found in nine of the 15 cans of Gravy Train that WJLA tested. The station, which commissioned a lab specializing in food testing for contaminants, also tested around two dozen other brands over several months, but there were no significant findings.

Those at the shelter said it's not just the food supply that scares these volunteers. They worry about the health of the dogs, too.

"We do take it seriously because we do love these dogs and we`re trying to find loving homes for each and every one of them," Williams said. "We do not want to see anything happen to them, especially with tainted food."

Health officials warn pet owners that if the drug is ingested, it can cause dizziness, loss of balance, nausea or in extreme cases, possibly death.

That causes more worry for the shelter. Almost Home is run entirely from volunteers and donations, so when a dog needs veterinarian care, it comes out of their pockets.

"A lot of these dogs may not die from what this does, but it may cause issues with their stomachs, kidneys, who knows what," Williams said.

People notes that Gravy Train is produced by the Smucker Co.'s Big Heart Pet Brands, which also makes Meow Mix, 9Lives, and Pounce pet edibles. The investigation was spurred after the death of a Washington state woman's dog a year ago.

All four of Nikki Mael's dogs got sick on New Year's Eve 2016 after eating canned Evanger's dog food, and one, Talula, didn't make it. Mael sent the food out for testing, and the lab found it contained pentobarbital, which is banned from use in pet or human food.

Efforts are now focused on how the pentobarbital got into the Gravy Train samples, with the FDA jumping into the investigation; the AP notes a supplier that provides one of the brand's lesser ingredients is being looked at.

One somewhat stomach-churning possibility being bandied about: animals that were put down somehow ended up in the pet food.

A rep from JM Smucker tells WebMD "extremely low levels" of pentobarbital aren't risky for animals, but that "the presence of this substance at any level is not acceptable to us and not up to our quality standards." (The FDA also warned about bones for dogs.)

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