A family's heartbreak over losing their dog prompted an FDA investigation -- and ultimately a recall -- of dog food after traces of a euthanasia drug were found in it.
Nikki Mael said she and her family were heartbroken over the loss of their dog Talula, who died after her five dogs ate Evanger's pet food and began convulsing.
"They were falling over. They were running into the walls. They were convulsing," Mael told ABC 7.
Vets told the woman that Talula wouldn't make it out of the ordeal alive, prompting the heartbroken family to begin searching for answers. They took the dog for a postmortem to see what killed her, and doctors found traces of pentobarbital -- a lethal drug that is commonly used to euthanize dogs -- in her system.
"Pet food violates federal law, is openly allowed by the FDA to violate federal law, billion dollar a year companies are making profit selling illegal adulterated products to unknowing consumers in the US every day," pet food consumer advocate Susan Thixton said.
ABC 7 conducted an investigation alongside Ellipse Analytics, a lab that tests food for potential contamination.
"I think you have a duty to understand what you’re selling to human beings and pets, and I think that the obligation is on you to understand what is, and is not, in your product," said the lab's founder, Kevin Hicks.
The investigation revealed that nine out of 15 cans of one particular dog food, Gravy Train, tested positive for pentobarbital. Gravy Train is produced by Big Heart Pet Foods, who also produces Meow Mix, Snausages and Jerky Treats.
Pentobarbital, ABC 7 reported, is illegal at any concentration in dog food, despite the fact that the levels detected during testing were deemed not lethal.
"It comes from euthanasia of animals using that euthanasia drug," Center for Canine Behavior Studies' chief scientific officer Nicholas Dodman said.
"So, these animals could be dogs, they could be cats, they could be horses -- but how is it getting into the pet food? If they say it doesn’t come from dogs, cats and horses where does it come from? It doesn’t come from outer space."
Smuckers, the company that owns Big Heart Pet Foods, issued a statement to ABC 7 following the station's investigation.
"We launched and are conducting a thorough investigation, including working closely with our suppliers, to determine the accuracy of these results and the methodology used," the company's statement read.
Following controversy surrounding the investigation, Smuckers announced a voluntary withdrawal of nearly all the dog food brands associated with pentobarbital, reports Fox News.