Iams Scandal

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There are pet food manufacturers out there who profess to provide a superior product.  They may even come highly recommended by your vet.  And probably the product does contain superior ingredients to those cheap supermarket brands.

But at what price?

And by price here I’m not talking about the cash you outlay from you wallet for the product.  No, I’m talking about societal cost, and specifically the cost incurred by animals just like your dog and mine.

Some of these animals pay with their lives.

Appalling and sickening, but unfortunately true.

PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) has uncovered a scandal involving Iams, one of the well-known, high-end pet food products which is sold in pet shops and veterinarians, and is often highly recommended by those professionals who we would think are in the know.

For nearly 10 months in 2002 and early 2003, a PETA investigator went undercover at an Iams contract testing laboratory and discovered a dark and sordid secret beneath the wholesome image of the dog- and cat-food manufacturer: dogs gone crazy from intense confinement to barren steel cages and cement cells, dogs left piled on a filthy paint-chipped floor after having chunks of muscle hacked from their thighs; dogs surgically debarked; horribly sick dogs and cats languishing in their cages, neglected and left to suffer with no veterinary care.

Iams lied to PETA with promises to improve the conditions for dog and cats in its contract laboratories, even assuring us that enrichment programs were already in place, but our undercover investigator saw otherwise. She fought for six months to have a single cheap, rubber toy placed in each cold, lonely kennel. This is Iams’ idea of enrichment.

PETA’s video footage shows Iams representatives touring the facility and witnessing dogs’ endless circling in barren cells, sweltering in the summer heat. Iams knew the truth yet did nothing to protect the animals.

The dogs and cats in Iams’ tests are no different from our dogs and cats at home when it comes to deserving companionship, play, a stimulating environment, and the right not to be tormented in painful experiments.

Luckily, caring consumers know that advances in nutrition don’t have to come at the expense of animals in labs. Help PETA force Iams to end these painful and unnecessary tests, as many compassionate companies have already done.

The Investigation

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PETA’s investigator videotaped Iams representatives touring the facility. They saw the sad, distressed dogs. They felt the sweltering heat and humidity in the kennels. Then they walked out. But the animals couldn’t.

An Iams veterinarian inspecting a group of dogs purchased from a USDA Class B dealer did nothing when he saw that a mother dog who had just given birth in a cement kennel had been provided with no bedding to rest on. A puppy and an adult dog from that group died during PETA’s investigation, most likely the result of neglect and temperatures that fell below 34 degrees in the building.

An Iams “behaviorist” saw dogs spinning in their cages out of madness and yet said nothing. An Iams cat dental researcher even overheard two employees talking about animals who were treated inhumanely at the facility yet Iams continued to conduct business there as usual.

Despite assurances in the Iams research policy that no animal would ever be killed, PETA’s investigator documented the destruction of 27 out of 60 dogs who underwent an invasive procedure that involved having huge chunks of muscle cut out of their legs. Two more of those dogs were found dead in their cages after the surgery; one had been suffering for 11 days prior to her death.

When PETA’s investigator reported that Humbug, an Iams dog, was limping, she was told by a vet tech that the laboratory had an x-ray machine that dated back to the 1960s but no film for it and that the director of the laboratory preferred to kill, rather than treat, animals with broken bones. In addition, Fifi and the other dogs used in Iams’ metabolic studies were bled by the laboratory in order to sell their blood to other companies even though the studies do not call for blood draws.

Finally, shortly before the PETA investigator left, the lab director told the vet techs to debark all the Iams dogs as he was being disturbed by their desperate cries for attention. PETA’s investigator e-mailed Iams researchers in Dayton with this information, hoping that Iams would intervene. But all she got was the sickening sight of a lab technician covered in blood after a day of performing the debarking surgery.

When the PETA investigator resigned, she told the Iams representative and the lab director that she was leaving because despite her best efforts, nothing was being done to enhance the desperately boring, lonely, harsh lives of the animals. The Iams representative admitted that both he and the lab director were from the “old school.”

What the PETA Investigator Found:   Iams’ Den of Horrors

– Iams dogs dumped on cold concrete flooring after having huge chunks of muscle cut out of their thighs

– dogs and cats gone stir-crazy from confinement; dogs and cats in windowless, dungeon-like buildings

– a coworker who instructed her to hit the dogs on the chest if they quit breathing; another coworker who talked about an Iams dog found dead in his cage, bleeding from his mouth

– a dog who limped in pain from Lyme disease

– cruel studies done by Iams involving sticking tubes down dogs’ throats to force them to ingest vegetable oil

– Iams dogs with such severe tartar buildup on their teeth that it was painful for them to eat

– vet technicians with inadequate training and experience performing invasive procedures

– coworkers who talked about a live kitten who was washed down a drain

– coworkers who talked about how they had to go home because the ammonia fumes in the animal trailers were so overpowering that it made their eyes burn (try being one of the animals in those cages!)

– cats kept in a cinderblock room with crude wooden “resting” boards that had nails sticking out of them; one of the boards fell on a cat, crushing her to death, while our investigator was there yet the lab director did not remove the boards when the cat was crushed—he removed them when he was told that the lab was going to be inspected because he knew they were illegal.

Other Pet Food Companies:

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Menu Foods

Pain and Suffering, All in a Day’s Work

Many of the animals used in Menu Foods studies were in constant pain. Although the U.S. federal Animal Welfare Act prohibits the use of slatted flooring that endangers animals’ health and well-being, PETA’s investigator saw numerous dogs with their legs caught between the bars of slatted cage floors. Many of the dogs had swollen and inflamed paw pads from walking on the slatted steel for months on end. Most of their toenails were so long that they could hardly walk without slipping. Our investigator videotaped one dog who had such severe injuries from the slatted flooring that both her hind legs were cut to the bone. This miserable dog, identified only as (H)8J483, was left to suffer for seven days without any painkillers until the veterinary technicians finally killed her. Her body parts were sold to other companies.

Inexcusable Neglect

Many animals also desperately needed their teeth cleaned because they were not allowed to chew on anything hard—all they got to eat was canned food. When PETA’s investigator inquired about teeth cleanings, she was told that the researcher at Menu Foods would not let the animals “take a break” from the studies in order to undergo this basic procedure.

When one dog stopped eating, the veterinary technicians agreed to examine her at our investigator’s request. Initially, the apathetic technicians could not figure out what was wrong, but after several examinations, they realized that the dog’s teeth were brown with tartar buildup and her gums were red and swollen. After five months of suffering this way, the vet techs finally cleaned her teeth.

PETA’s investigator also found that many cats were lacking proper veterinary care. A kitten was even killed while having her blood drawn; the director of the laboratory believed that the kitten may have died because she was squeezed too tightly. Another cat had discharge coming from his eyes (a common problem—it was suspected that chlamydia was spreading around the laboratory), and the veterinary technicians missed several of his treatments, causing the cat to suffer even more.

A cat used in a Menu Foods study whom PETA’s investigator had befriended had a large cut on his chin. The vet techs told our investigator that this unfortunate cat was “evil,” and instead of treating the cat humanely, they put betadine in a spray bottle and tried to spray the cat in the face from outside the cage, squirting him in the mouth and causing him to salivate profusely. Later, the technicians indicated that the “problem was resolved,” yet the investigator saw that the cut looked much worse and informed the lab’s director of the cat’s condition. Although the vet techs were told to euthanize the cat immediately, he suffered for five more days before the vet techs finally got around to destroying him.

A shy, sweet dog used in another Menu Foods experiment, identified as HJDMFT, had both a rash on her inside thigh and a purple mass on her abdomen. Our investigator had to submit several veterinary request cards to staff before the dog was seen. She was diagnosed as having a mammary tumor and folliculitis (a bacterial infection of the hair follicles), and she cried when handled because the tumor had become inflamed and hot to the touch by the time she was seen by a vet on August 21, 2002. The suffering dog was not treated, and her condition steadily worsened until finally, on September 26, she was killed. HJDMFT, who looked as if she could be the dog next door, had spent 42 days in hell before her death.

Oversight Overlooked

During the nine months that PETA’s investigator worked in the laboratory, she never saw a Menu Foods representative come to observe the conditions that the animals were forced to endure, nor was she asked for any records on the animals. Shortly before our investigator quit her job at the lab, the lab director ordered the vet techs to debark all the dogs because he was being disturbed by their desperate cries for attention. A vet tech told our investigator that a researcher in Menu Foods’ New Jersey office gave permission for the dogs’ vocal chords to be cut out.

Dog and Cat Foods Manufactured by Menu Foods


[Menu Foods manufactures only wet (canned) dog and cat foods. A dry dog or cat food with one of the labels listed below is most likely manufactured by a company other than Menu Foods. Ask your supermarket officials to tell you which company produces their foods for them if you buy dry dog or cat food under any store label.

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A&P’s Master Choice
Authority (PetSmart brand)
Award (PetSmart brand)
Safeway Select
SophistaCat (PetSmart brand)
Stop & Shop
Wal-Mart’s Special Kitty Pouches

Support Companies That Do Not Test on Animals

PETA has contacted hundreds of companion-animal food companies asking if they conduct laboratory tests on cats and dogs. Numerous companies responded to let us know that they do not. We have compiled a list of these companies below.

Companies not on this list either responded that they do conduct laboratory experiments on animals, or they failed to respond to our numerous inquiries and are assumed to conduct laboratory experiments on animals.

If you are concerned about cats and dogs in laboratory tests, you should purchase companion-animal food exclusively from the following companies:


Flint River Ranch

Sojourner Farms / Sojos

Life’s Abundance / HealthyPetNet

The Honest Kitchen

Active Life Pet Products

Alternatives 4 Pets, Inc.

Amoré Pet Services, Inc.

Animal Food Services

Azmira Holistic Animal Care

Burns Pet Nutrition

Canusa International

CountryPet Pet Food

Dr. Harvey’s

Dry Fork Milling Co.

Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Co., Inc.

Evolution Diet, Inc. (entirely vegan)

Good Dog Foods, Inc.


Halo, Purely for Pets

Happy Dog Food

Harbingers of a New Age (entirely vegan)

Holistic Blend

Know Better Dog Food

KosherPets, Inc.

Kumpi Pet Foods

Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc. (has vegan options)

Natural Life Pet Products, Inc. (has vegan options)

Nature’s Variety

PetGuard (has vegan options)

Pied Piper Pet Wildlife

Raw Advantage, Inc.

Rocky Mountain Natural Products

Sauder Feeds, Inc.

Veterinary Nutritional Formula

Wow-Bow Distributors Ltd. (has vegan options)

Wysong Professional Diets (has vegan options)


Burns Pet Nutrition

Europa Pet Foods Ltd

Fromm Family Foods
available in the UK from Postal Pet Products Ltd

Harbingers of a New Age
(completely vegan)

Leander International Pet Foods Ltd

Naturediet Pet Foods Ltd

Top Number

Trophy Pet Foods]

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PETA’s Mission Statement

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with more than 800,000 members, is the largest animal rights organization in the world. Founded in 1980, PETA is dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of all animals. PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment.

PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in laboratories, in the fur trade, and in the entertainment industry. We also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of beavers, birds and other “pests,” and the abuse of backyard dogs.

PETA works through public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and direct action.

For further information, see:
www.peta.org/about/index.asp and www.IamsCruelty.com

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