DETROIT — Evanger's is voluntarily recalling some of its dog food after a drug that is used to anesthetize or put down pets was found in it.
Pentobarbital was found in one lot of the dog food; five dogs got sick and one died, according to the Wheeling, Ill.-based company.
Fifteen states are affected by the Hunk of Beef Au Jus recall. The 12-ounce cans were manufactured June 6-13 and sold in stores and online in Washington, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
As a precaution, Evanger's is recalling Hunk of Beef products manufactured the same week, with lot numbers that start with 1816E03HB, 1816E04HB, 1816E06HB, 1816E07HB and 1816E13HB, and expire June 2020. The second half of the barcode on the back of the label says 20109. The ill and deceased dogs ate from the 1816E06HB13 lot.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is distributing information about the recall as well.
All Evanger’s suppliers of meat products are USDA approved, the company said.
"We feel that we have been let down by our supplier, and in reference to the possible presence of pentobarbital, we have let down our customers," the company said in a press release on its website, adding that it's the first recall in 82 years of manufacturing.
Evanger's said it has terminated its relationship with that supplier after 40 years, though that company services "many other pet food companies."
Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-847-537-0102 10 a.m.-5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.
Pentobarbital can cause drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea and sometimes death, said the company.
So far, five dogs have been sickened by the recalled pet food and one of them died. The dogs’ owner, Nikki Mael of Southwest Washington, said she bought a can of Hunk of Beef Au Jus on New Year’s Eve and split it between the five dogs — four pugs and a Chihuahua.
“Within fifteen minutes they were acting drunk, they were falling, their limbs weren't working,” said Mael. “By the time I got them to the emergency vet, they were listless… immediately I knew it was the dog food.”
Mael’s pug, Talula, died.
Necropsy results from Oregon State University confirmed the dog’s death was related to the dog food. To be sure, OSU sent dog food samples to Michigan State University labs which found high levels of the drug pentobarbital, a euthanizing agent used to kill animals.
“Please, take it out. don't feed this to your animals, it will kill them,” Mael said.
Evangers paid for Mael’s veterinary bills. While she appreciates the gesture, Mael said it won't bring Talula back.
“I feel that this company needs to be closed down because it's not okay, it cannot continue to happen,” Mael said.