In recent years, pet food scandals have caused people to do more research about what they feed their pets. But this research primarily involves finding out what pet food makers say about their products and trusting those claims, as plaintiffs Nicole and Guy Mael trusted the claims that Evanger’s made about its dog food. However, according to the complaint for this class action, those claims were far from the truth.
This class action has defined two classes. The nationwide class includes all persons who purchased, within the US, the defendants’ pet foods between June 16, 2013 and June 16, 2017. The Washington subclass includes all those who made these purchases in the state of Washington.
The defendants in this case are two companies. Evanger’s produces different lines of pet food, under its own name and the name Against the Grain; it also produces pet foods for other companies such as Party Animal. It is owned by four members of the Sher family. The other defendant, Nutripack, is the manufacturer of Evanger’s pet foods and is also owned by the Sher family.
According to the complaint, Evanger’s marketing and labeling are aimed at high-end consumers, touting its pet foods as being “human grade, USDA inspected meat” and as not containing “soy, corn, wheat, artificial ingredients, preservatives, harmful additives or by-products”. For this alleged quality, it charges higher prices for its products. The complaint says that its Against the Grain line makes similar claims, saying that its contents are “safe,” “human grade,” “highest quality,” and “sourced from human grade facilities” and made from specific meats.
Plaintiffs Nicole and Guy Mael say they purchased Evanger’s Hunk of Beef Au Jus and Against the Grain’s Grain Free Pulled Beef with Gravy canned dog food and, on December 31, 2016, fed it to their five dogs. Immediately after the dogs ate the food, the complaint says, the dogs became listless and unresponsive, to the point where the Maels rushed them to an emergency vet. The complaint claims that one of the dogs died, that another is being treated for seizures, and that all four surviving dogs have needed ongoing treatment.
According to the complaint, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) worked with the Maels and the retailer who’d sold them the pet food to perform testing on the dead dog’s body and the pet foods. What they found, the complaint says, was a large amount of pentobarbital in both the dog’s stomach and the pet foods. Pentobarbital is a barbiturate used in euthanizing animals, and the FDA prohibits foods from being made from animals who have died in other ways than slaughter.
The complaint says that further investigation found that Evanger’s meat supplier had labeled its meat as “Inedible Hand Deboned Beef” that was “For Pet Food Use Only. Not Fit for Human Consumption.” In addition, the complaint says, none of Evanger’s suppliers are inspected by the USDA and none of its meat was human-grade. The complaint also says that the FDA found unsanitary conditions at Evanger’s facilities and trace amounts of pork and horse products were found in products labeled “100% beef”. For these reasons, the complaint alleges numerous counts against the company, including breaches of warranty, fraud, deceptive business practices, and negligence.