SAN FRANCISCO -- A dog owner has filed a class-action lawsuit against the maker of a popular pet food brand alleging that thousands of dogs have been sickened or died from eating its dry dog foods.
Pet owner Frank Lucido filed the suit on Feb. 5 in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California against Nestle Purina PetCare Company.
Lucido claims he fed his three dogs Beneful, and within a short period of time, two were sick and one was dead.
The suit alleges Beneful dry dog foods contain an ingredient toxic to animals, propylene glycol, a chemical used in automobile antifreeze. On Purina's website, the company notes that propylene glycol is an FDA-approved food additive that's used in human food products.
The lawsuit also claims Beneful contains harmful mycotoxins, toxins produced by fungus that occurs in grains.
In the suit, Lucido alleges that in the past four years, there have been more than 3,000 complaints online about dogs becoming ill or dying after eating Beneful, having shown "consistent symptoms," including stomach and related internal bleeding, liver malfunction or failure, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, seizures and kidney failure.
The legal filing cites the accounts of a number of pet owners, including one who states that "after eating Beneful for just over a week, my dogs liver failed. She was drinking way more than usual, stopped eating and was vomiting. She spent 2 days in intensive care with IV fluids and antibiotics."
Purina's website says it uses "an FDA-approved food additive" that is also in human foods. Purina issued a statement saying "there are no quality issues with Beneful."
The suit asks the court to expand the case to include other dog owners whose dogs were sickened or died and pay them unspecified damages and restitution.
In recent years, Beneful has faced two lawsuits that were dismissed by the courts.
However, in a lawsuit settled in May, Purina and Waggin' Train LLC agreed to create a $6.5 million fund to compensate pet owners who claimed their pets were sickened after eating pet jerky treats made in China.
At the time, Food and Drug Administration officials said the pet treats were linked to more than 1,000 deaths in dogs and more than 4,800 complaints of animal illness. Three humans also got sick.
Major pet supply retailers Petco and PetSmart responded by pulling pet treats from China from their stores.