This warning may have come a little too late for some of you but the story needs to go out anyhow. The dog you see on the right, Addie, which belongs to Ryan McLaughlin (who also writes LostLaowai and CNet Asia’s The Tech Dynasty) has just died from contact with aflatoxin-contaminated Optima dog food. Aflatoxicity leads to rapid liver failure and kills 80% of all dogs afflicted with it.
After Ryan’s local pet store in Suzhou was nice enough to inform him of the aflatoxin contamination which has killed about 30 dogs in the region around Shanghai on Dec 23 (how’s that for a Christmas present?), Addie was taken from vet to vet, put on IV, given all sorts of jabs and drugs over the next twelve days, but nothing would save her. She lost the fight. Yesterday.
It remains unclear whether Optima in China is imported from the US or from Australia, but this bit on the corporate damage control mode that the company went into as described by Ryan is interesting:
I watched Addie while Maggie [Ryan’s wife] went into a room with them and talked about the situation. They essentially laid out that they would cover all medical costs related to this, and in the event of her death they would come up with compensation of some sort. How exactly do they calculate that? Pro-rated from time of birth with a bonus for a good temperament and numbers of hours trained? I realize they’re managing the damage and just doing their jobs, but fuck – assholes. They very likely killed my dog and actually had the audacity to tell Maggie they’ll reimburse us based on book value for the breed plus a bit for pain and suffering.
The one good thing that came out of the conversation is that we learned a bit more about what happened. Apparently the Olympics are to blame. Fucking Olympics. Allegedly, the reason for the contamination is because during the Olympics the Chinese gov’t set tight restrictions on ports of entry for importing. All the dog food was therefore brought in through the hot and humid Guangzhou, where it sat in a non-temperature controlled warehouse long enough for the aflatoxin to develop in the food.
More drama ensued over the next few days as the Optima distributor eventually backed out of working with Ryan’s vet and paying the RMB1,500/day they were charging:
…we’ve switched from Cao Lang Feng down by the Suzhou Zoo to Wang Wang Gong Guan (汪旺公馆) here in SIP. The closer proximity is a bonus, but the choice was hardly ours. After going to Vet Cao for the last few days, when Maggie went there yesterday the staff explained that if we wanted to stay we’d have to pay the approx. 1500 RMB/day because the dog food distributor had cut off payment there.
Rather confused by this turn of events, the story we got from Vet Cao was that the cheap-ass distributor didn’t want to pay the high costs associated with the “premium” care at Cao Lang Feng Animal Hospital – largely considered the most well-equipped vet in Suzhou.
The distributor (predictably) had a different opinion. He told Maggie that Cao Lang Feng had been using this aflatoxin exposure as a big payday. He accused Vet Cao of ordering unneeded and excessive testing and expensive blood transfusions as a way to beef up the bill – which he knew the “clients” wouldn’t have to pay for. He then also said he’d heard that Vet Cao was overheard saying to a friend, “When else am I going to get a chance to make this money from them?” The distributor seemed pretty bothered by this, as he had a long relationship with the animal hospital. He also added that at least one dog brought in with this problem had died not from the liver damage, but because no one was caring for the dog while it was having an IV.
Read Ryan’s account of his horrible year-end nightmare below and share your dog food stories in the comment section below:
Feeding your dog Optima in China? Stop.
US-made Optima dog food in China may have killed my dog
Addie Update #2: The Youth in Asia Debate
From time to eternity