Everyone knows their pet is priceless. And they are. Dogs, cats, birds and other pets become family members. How many stories have you heard in the news that when tragedy strikes, the pet’s owner was able to save their pet from disaster. And many owners will spare no expense to make their furry or scaly friend comfortable for the unconditional love they receive in return. The American Pet Products Association estimated that in the United States, about $62.75 billion was spent on pets in 2016, a figure that is 4 percent higher than the previous year.
One of the leading dog and cat food brands is Champion, a Canadian-based company that sells its products under the brand names of Orijen and Acana. Nestle has been indicating an interest in buying a majority interest in the pet food giant for some $2 billion. It has been reported that in 2011 Champion’s sales revenue amounted to $17.5 million, and that number grew to $180 million in 2017. Champion’s product packaging promotes its dog food as, among other things, “biologically appropriate,” containing “fresh, regional ingredients” and even “fit for human consumption.”
Because of these representations, consumers pay premium prices for Champion’s products, often more than four times the price of national brand competitors. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Total Diet Study summarizes tests conducted over many years showing the mean amounts of arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury (among other heavy metals) that are found in a wide range of foods for human consumption. The results of these tests prove that the average concentrations of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury found in Champion’s Orijen and Acana dog food products far exceed amounts found in foods fit for human consumption. Arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury are toxic to dogs as well as to humans. Such heavy metals tend to accumulate in the body, and long-term exposure, even in small quantities, can cause deleterious health effects.
Pet owners got angry. They felt deceived by Champion and took their cases to court for justice. In cases pending in several jurisdictions through the United States, plaintiffs allege that the concentrations of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury found in Champion’s dog food products are excessive and dangerous, and that Champion’s representations that its dog food products are biologically appropriate and fit for human consumption are false and misleading. Plaintiffs seek remuneration for having paid a substantial premium for Champion’s dog food products that were fundamentally different and less valuable than as represented by Champion.
Clifford Law Offices has counseled a number of these allegedly defrauded pet owners. If you have purchased Orijen or Acana products and would like to discuss the pending litigation, please phone (800) 899-0410 or contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert A. Clifford, Founder and Senior Partner, Clifford Law Offices
Shannon M. McNulty, Partner, Clifford Law Offices