I’ve no doubt by now many of you will have seen the ridiculous article that The Telegraph published on the 29th March 2014 (Raw meat could be cause of dead dogs, scientist warns). It’s an outstanding piece of totally crap journalism and is so bad you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d accidentally published it 3 days early, having really intended it to be an April Fools’ day joke.
Many of the raw feeding facebook groups have been discussing it and there is already commentary on the internet about it, like this great response from a vet.
The article leads with a statement by an American Scientist that the Alabama Rot illness, which has already killed a number of dogs in Britain, and which, to date, vets have been unable to determine the cause of, could be caused by feeding dogs raw meat. This statement is based on an outbreak of Alabama Rot which killed hundreds of greyhounds in America in the 80s, which at the time research suggested MAY have been caused by a toxin from bacteria found in raw meat. The article does go on to point out that the link to raw feeding was never proved and that the cause of that outbreak remains unknown. It also states (well into the article) that the dogs that have died in the UK from Alabama Rot were not fed raw meat.
I’m left wondering what kind of journalist leads with the head line “Raw meat could be the cause of dead dogs” and then goes on to explain that it couldn’t have been raw meat that killed the dogs in question. Could this be any more irresponsible? Surely the most important part of the story is this statement “Dr Walker [the vet leading the investigation – Ed] said that because the trigger for the illness had not been established it was difficult to advise owners on how best to avoid it and what the best course of treatment was.”
Why did the journalist not elect to lead with a statement that experts still don’t know the cause? Or maybe, “American scientist looses mind and suggests raw meat could be causing deaths in dogs who were never fed raw meat, further confusing worried owners”.
There are also some laughable statements from the mad professor “Prof Fenwick said he believed this was because at the time in the US, it was illegal to feed pet dogs raw meat. Racing greyhounds however were not subject to the same restrictions.” I have never heard of, or read about, raw feeding being illegal, and even if it were why on earth would greyhounds be carved out of the law as an exception, and how would this be policed? It’s pretty easy to buy raw meat, once I have the meat how is someone going to stop me feeding it to my dogs?
“He said: “My first suspicion with the outbreak in the UK would be to do an epidemiological study of the dogs that have had the disease and see if in fact they had been fed uncooked raw meat. That is becoming more popular with some dog owners and you can buy it in the grocery store sometimes.” Doesn’t he ever go into grocery stores? I can’t imagine there are many that don’t sell raw meat. Is he totally out of touch with reality, or is he trying to maintain the illusion that dogs should only ever be fed food designated solely for them?
There is a part of me that finds the whole article hilarious because it is that awful and my expectations of the mainstream media are pretty low anyway, but many people have already lost their beloved dogs to this disease, they do not deserve to have this sort of cack handed journalism associated with their loss. And then there’s the people who may be put off raw feeding because they only read the headline or the initial part of the story, this makes me pretty angry.
The skeptic in me is a little bit jubilant though, there’s a good chance this is driven by the pet food industry’s desire to put people off raw feeding. We all know that it is gaining in popularity, we can see it in the ever growing numbers joining raw feeding facebook groups and other forums, and in the burgeoning raw pet food businesses. If this is pet food company propaganda then we must have them on the run because it’s a ridiculously weak argument against raw feeding.
So we need to keep up the good fight, keep spreading the word and keep refuting crazy stories like this one. I’ve got my chi security team on watch.