Describing it as "four days of hell," Jack and Bonnie Grellman, of Reno, still can't believe the pain their 2-year-old white lab, Jingles, went through after they fed the dog food they believe was contaminated by rat poison.
The Grellman's traditionally use fresh foods to feed their animals, but just over a month ago Bonnie Grellman was a little short and decided to give Jingles a can of Eukanuba food they had purchased for another dog that stays with them periodically.
The food was among the 95 brands included in the nationwide recall by Menu Foods, suspected to be contaminated by rat poison. The company has confirmed the deaths of 15 cats and one dog believed to be linked to the contamination.
"He became so ill, so fast. It was about 45 minutes after that he began having seizures and became violently ill," she said.
When he arrived at the emergency animal clinic Jingles was having extreme convulsions and registered a 109-degree temperature.
The dog's condition gradually improved over the next three days. At this point, the vet had no idea what had caused the dog's system to shut down.
"He looked like he was coming out of it, so they said we could take him home if we gave him medication mixed with food. We had no idea, so we continued to use the bad dog food to administer the medication and he relapsed," Jack Grellman said.
The dog's health again declined rapidly, with progressively worse seizures and convulsions until he became unable to continue to function and was put down Feb. 22. The total cost of the vet bills, including blood work and an autopsy, was more than $3,500.
"I'm not mad or angry, it's just sad that this had to happen. People seem to take better care of their dogs than they do themselves," Jack Grellman said.
Jan Chandler, of Carson City, can sympathize with the Grellmans' story; she lost her 14-year-old cat, Ollie, Tuesday night.
"He was in the vet hospital for 26 hours before we had to put him down. We heard about the recall on Friday night, but there weren't any cat foods on the list," Chandler said. "By Sunday Ollie was really sick, so we called Petsmart and they said our brand was on the list."
Ollie was taken to Dr. Pamela Jahn at Carson-Tahoe Veterinary Hospital.
"Cats, especially older cats, are going to be more affected than dogs are because they need more protein in their diets and it's harder on their kidneys," Jahn said. "If you can get them through the first couple days they usually come through."
Jahn said pet owners have been calling with concerns about the recall, but her clinic has so far had only one other animal suffering from the symptoms.
Grellman, an attorney and 25-year-member of the board of directors of the Nevada Humane Society, said he is willing to help pet owners join the class action lawsuit filed by Chicago attorney Jay Edelson against the company.
Chandler said she is considering joining the suit.
"(Ollie) was one of our kids, it was just heartbreaking to have to put her to sleep," Chandler said.
Bonnie Grellman is still undecided about joining the lawsuit.
"I just want to see where the suit goes, but this company needs to be held accountable," she said.
To find out what brands are included in the recall, call 1-866-895-2708 or go online to www.menufoods.com/recall.
About the class-action lawsuit being filed by affected pet owners, contact attorney Jay Edelson of Blim & Edelson in Chicago through their toll-free number 888-325-4652.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.