Pet food maker faces mounting legal woes over dog deaths

by Albert Ginger

Hill's Pet Nutrition "dragged its feet in issuing a recall" for its canned dog food with potentially toxic levels of vitamin D, leading to the deaths and illnesses of numerous dogs, according to one of multiple lawsuits recently filed against the company.

Hill's manufactured and sold the now-recalled Specialty Dog Food to "tens of thousands of consumers," according to a lawsuit filed early this month in New York. It cited the company's U.S. recall of 675,000 cases -- or 13.5 million cans -- in presenting its case as a class action, filed on behalf of a group of people.

"We believe that hundreds, if not thousands, of pets have died or become seriously ill as a result of eating Hill's foods with toxic levels of vitamin D," emailed Nyran Rose Rasche, a Chicago-based attorney with Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel, which filed the class action.

The suit is among a handful filed since Hill's late-January recall, which soon found the company awash in complaints from grief-stricken dog owners, many of whom took to social media to relay stories of their pet's demise.

"We have received an outpouring of distressing calls and emails from dog owners whose dogs died after eating the recalled products," emailed Kathryn Schubert, an attorney with Schubert Jonckheer & Kolbe in San Francisco, which has filed two class actions. "Their stories are heartbreaking."