A San Francisco attorney whose client alleges that a Purina dog food line killed his English bulldog said Wednesday he was inundated with calls this week from pet owners with similar horror stories.
Jeffrey Cereghino is representing Discovery Bay resident Frank Lucido in a class-action lawsuit filed Feb. 5 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against Nestle Purina PetCare Co. Lucido claims that he fed his three dogs Beneful dry food in late December and early January and within a month two were sick and one was dead.
Following media coverage of the lawsuit this week, Cereghino — a partner at San Francisco-based Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopczynski — said he has received “hundreds upon hundreds” of calls and emails from distraught pet owners.
“We expected a response, but not this kind of response,” Cereghino said. “Everyone’s situation is similar in that [Beneful] dog food causes a variety of injuries.”
The lawsuit alleges the food contains an animal toxin used in automobile antifreeze.
In addition to the pet owners in the U.S. and Canada who have reached out to Cereghino and his co-counsel this week, the lawsuit claims that in the past four years, 3,000 consumers have complained online about dogs becoming ill or dying after eating Beneful.
“We’re seeing a lot of complaints where vets [are] asking if dogs were given antifreeze,” Cereghino said.
The sickened dogs allegedly showed “consistent symptoms,” including stomach and related internal bleeding, liver malfunction or failure, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, seizures and kidney failure.
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 lawsuit asks that Purina pay Lucido and others unspecified damages and restitution. Currently, Lucido is the only litigant, but others could join the lawsuit.
Cereghino said his client is seeking the value of his pet that died, recovery of vet bills and the ongoing medicine that he has to feed his other two dogs.
“Which is very expensive,” Cereghino said of the ongoing care. “They’re not out of the woods.”
In recent years, Beneful has faced two other class action lawsuits that were dismissed.
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 Chinese-made jerky treats.
At the time, U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials said the treats were linked to more than 1,000 deaths in dogs and more than 4,800 complaints of animal illness. Three humans were sickened after eating the treats.