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MoCo Humane takes lead against tainted pet food, and other crisis concerns

June 1, 2007

A recent short in The Examiner (May 17, 2007) credits the Montgomery County Humane Society with drafting proposed legislation that would require the FDA to tightly regulate pet food. This could be an opportunity either to dovetail with Sen. Dick Durbin’s efforts, which the Senate overwhelmingly supported, on May 2, or go for something stronger.

Notoriously, the piece that passed the Senate removed the provision that would have empowered the FDA to mandate a recall rather than just make nicey-nice, asking companies to recall contaminated products voluntarily. (Why does this not surprise me…?)

It’s time to go for something even stronger yet. Or better, revive the FDA’s Import Strategic Plan, on the drawing board since 9/11! You tell me — why haven’t we done anything for nearly six years???

A national food security plan exists, but it’s stalledLA Times, 4/27/07

Senate approves measure to strengthen food safety
Pet food crisis far from over, ASPCA warns — ConsumerAffairs.com, 5/5/07

See also From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine
By Walt Bogdanich and Jake Hooker — New York Times, 5/6/07

The Examiner article also indicates MCHS is pursuing a text-message alert system with the county and Homeland Security, to alert pet owners if food contamination problems come up again.

Actually, such a system also would lend itself to communication with pet guardians (I prefer this word in a legal sense, or pet parents in an informal context) in a natural disaster. Assuming, that is, there’s no problem with the technology as crisis events unfold.

Now here’s a question (actually, there are several) for all of the shelters — and animal hospitals — in the DC Metro area:

  • What do you have in the way of a communication plan to let your clients know the status of animals at your venue?
  • Can you quickly and effectively get real-time reports to all of your publics, whether they are volunteers who care for homeless animals, or vet techs and other specialists on staff, or devoted pet parents whose animals may be temporarily in your care?
  • What communications technology, high or low tech, do you have at your fingertips to do this?
  • Does everyone on your staff know how to use this technology?

Today is the start of the hurricane season. It isn’t too soon or too frivolous to ask yourselves these questions — and develop and practice the answers.

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