What happens to dead animals? They certainly don’t magically disappear. Only a fraction of pet dogs and cats are cremated or taken home for burial. My guess is that most people don’t even give a thought to where euthanized animals end up. Maybe they just assume there’s a mass grave somewhere or that the vet or dog pound cremates all of them. The sickening and ugly truth is that these dead animals end up as part of the 12.5 million dead animals taken by rendering facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada every single year.
Rendering is the process of separating the fat and moisture from the other animal parts. Van Smith of the City Paper in Baltimore, Maryland, visited a rendering plant called Valley Proteins. He reports that when he looked in the rendering vats he saw dead cats and dogs, snakes, skunk, raccoon, what he was told was a retired police horse, and individual body parts. Other eyewitnesses report that it’s not unusual to see pets with flea collars still on and some still in plastic bags they were transported in. The pet food industry completely denies having anything to do with this process or of including meat meal made with dogs or cats in any pet foods.
After arrival from the slaughterhouse, but prior to the rendering process, the dead animal carcasses are denatured or sprayed with carbolic acid, kerosene, fuel, creosote or citronella to make sure they will not be used for human food. These are all highly toxic to animals and humans. Next comes the actual rendering process.
A rendering plant worker, who has received threats on his life since exposing this practice, described the rendering process like this. At the slaughterhouse, piles of diseased, dead and dying animals covered with maggots are scooped by small bull-dozers into machines called augers. The augers grind the dead animals and mix them with restaurant grease, rotten meat from supermarkets, expired bakery goods (along with the plastic wrap and styrofoam trays they come in), garbage and other items deemed not fit for human consumption. At this point, it is sent to a smaller shredder and then broken into smaller batches for cooking.
After cooking, the meat and bones are sent to a hammer mill press and pulverized into a powder. This powder is then put onto a shaking screen to remove any fur or bone chips. By the time rendering is complete, all that is left is meat and bone meal and grease. The rendering process is repeated over and over again seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
The rendered meat meal, bone meal and fat are added to feed for farm animals as a source of cheap energy and protein, and to pet food. Pet owners will recognize a rendered ingredient on food labels as meat by-products, fish meal, bone meal, meat meal, chicken fat, tallow, poultry by-products, fish oil, yellow fat, tallow or beef fat. These often top of the list of ingredients in cheap dog and cat food.
Now that you know what the terms meal and by-products actually mean, what are you going to do? Do you really want your pet eating this? Is it worth the pennies you save by not buying him a dog or cat food that lists real meat, such as chicken or beef, as the first ingredient? Think about it.