NORTH PORT, Fla. — There's no price tag for the loss of a beloved pet or service animal, but dog owners can claim part of a $12.5 million dollar settlement from Hills Science Diet. The food was recalled for toxic levels of Vitamin D two years ago after pet owners said their pets got sick.
Since then, 35 class action lawsuits were combined into one which has been going through the courts. Kelly Bone from North Port sued after the loss of her medical service dog Duncan. He died two weeks before the recall.
"I didn't know why he died because he died a horrific death. He literally within 24 hours lost half of his body weight. He was having seizures. He was tremoring. It was a terrible, agonizing death. We kept taking him to the doctor. We took him three times over a 24-hour period, and they said he had some high vitamin D, but they didn't know what was causing it," Bone said.
Since his death, she's created a Facebook group called Saving Pets One Pet @ a Time with nearly 10,000 members and has been researching what goes into making pet food.
"I think just like in human foods now, people are trying to do healthier and eat more organic and things like that, and I think people want to do that for their pet as well or try to be as healthy as possible, and so what we recommend is the best diets you can do for a pet would be a raw-fed diet or a homemade diet. But it's important if you're going to do either of those, they need to be nutritionally balanced. That's difficult for a normal person to know what's nutritionally balanced. You might think it's balanced, but it might not be, and so we have a lot on our website and a lot of books and information that's on our site that can help you determine what's nutritionally balanced. Also, there's some very good pet foods out there that are already premade that you can purchase that quite frankly they are pricier than the normal foods, not much pricier than Science Diet or Royal Canin which are prescription foods, but they're pricey," Bone said.
She encourages pet parents to learn more about what is best for their health.
“Learn from me, don’t learn the hard way. Learn from me, and learn to be your pet’s advocate because nobody else is going to advocate for your pet.”
Bone says she feels the settlement is just a drop in the bucket, noting that Blue Buffalo had a payout of about $20 Million moreover a labeling issue back in 2015.
The Hills settlement covers food that was sold between 2018 and 2019. You don't necessarily have to show proof of purchase to make a claim. Here’s where you can learn more about the settlement that is expected to be finalized July 27, 2021.
In a statement, Hills Science Diet said:
"The settlement will enable us to continue to address the needs of pet parents that may have been impacted by the voluntary recall and maintain our focus on providing the best pet nutrition produced with the highest quality and safety standards in the industry."
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