Ellen DeGeneres and Iggy

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Ellen DeGeneres and Iggy

I’m sure everyone is aware of the dilemma Ellen Degeneres is going through right now with regards to her adopted dog Iggy. And I have to throw my two cents worth into the arena.

The animal protection movement began in 1866 with the founding of the first SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). A New York city millionaire by the name of Henry Bergh – after witnessing animal cruelty, took it upon himself to make changes. He was known as the ‘great meddler’. There is a long history to Henry Bergh’s actions – but basically he stood up against the norm and fought for animal rights against all odds. There were no lengthy contracts, there was no fine print. He alone, took an incredible stand for animals that seems to have been twisted off track along the way.

Statistics are – over four million dogs and cats are euthanized every year in the US. Four million euthanized pets a year – in shelters alone – is a staggering number. With more rescue groups across the country, the number of pets being killed should be decreasing – yet they aren’t. Each year the number of dogs and cats euthanized rises simply because there is no room in the shelter. Obviously something isn’t working.

Earlier this year, I did a radio interview in Eugene, Oregon. The host of the show did a little homework prior to my interview and discovered the county pays $14,000.00 a year to a rendering company to remove all the euthanized pets from the county shelter. This is not including the money spent for the euthanizing drug, nor the staff wages to perform the task, this is just the cost to remove the euthanized animals. This is one little county – imagine the cost nationwide.

In most shelters, (unless the facility has a crematory – few do) these poor euthanized animals are rendered or cooked and the end ingredients are used in animal feed, cosmetics, and who knows what (because the rendering industry is not regulated by the USDA or the FDA). As difficult as this is to grasp – It DOES happen. In fact, the very first brave individual to ever tell the story was a newspaper reporter in Baltimore, MD by the name of Van Smith. He happened to be at a baseball game and overheard the conversation of two men near him. They worked for a rendering company – Valley Proteins. Their conversation amazed Mr. Smith and after a few questions – and approval from Valley Proteins he and a photographer were allowed to follow these men, drivers for Valley Proteins – on their daily route and tour the facility. What he discovered and published (September 1995) was the actual truth of what happens to euthanized pets from animal shelters and veterinarian offices. His story, including the photos of barrels full of euthanized dogs and cats waiting to be rendered, caused such an uproar – he was barraged with phone calls and letters from the public, PETA, and nationwide media. In fact, because of his first hand knowledge of the rendering industry, he was the first witness to testify for Oprah in the lawsuit against her from the cattle industry. That article ended up being the last time any media has been allowed into or allowed to photograph a rendering facility.

I don’t have the answer to why so many pets are euthanized each year. A new book by Nathan Winograd called ‘Redemption’ tells a very detailed and disturbing story of the shelter industry from its conception. The author has the personal experience and the expertise to make changes – and from reading it, the shelter that Ellen dealt with is a perfect example of protocol winning out over the best interest for pets. Unfortunately it seems to be common place.

What I do know is that changes need to be made. There are far too many animals – pets – being euthanized. Above all, euthanized pets deserve a proper ending to their life, never should they be rendered.

My first goal is for truth in pet food labeling. Within that goal – is the disgraceful act of rendering euthanized pets. Somehow, the heartbreaking incident that Ellen DeGeneres is going through right now is involved. Her former pet Iggy will not be euthanized, but Iggy is still involved. Let’s hope that the media will pick up on the point from the overwhelming public attention Ellen and Iggy have received – and do a little investigating and help bring about awareness of no kill shelters and no kill rescue groups. The ones that work for the best benefit of pets, not the ones that follow protocol too tightly. It is puzzling to me as to why the shelter Ellen dealt with didn’t just work with her and probably end up getting a huge donation out of the deal. That donation would have ended up helping far more pets than bothering to dot all the I’s and crossing all the T’s.

For my personal goal with regards to pet food – if fewer animals were euthanized, there would be less of a chance that the rendered remains would end up in pet food. But fewer animals euthanized – benefits all.


Wishing you and your pet the best,

Susan Thixton

Truth About Pet Food

Petsumer Report


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