Animal Health Foundation Blog

Natural Life Pet Products Issues Recall of Dry Food Due to Elevated Levels of Vitamin D

November 6th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

For Immediate Release

November 2, 2018

Contact

Consumers

Natural Life Pet Products
consumerservices@nutrisca.com
(888) 279-9420

Announcement

Natural Life Pet Products of Saint Louis, Missouri is voluntarily recalling our Chicken & Potato dry dog food (described below) due to it containing elevated levels of Vitamin D.

17.5 lbs. Natural Life Chicken & Potato Dry Dog Food Bag UPC: 0-12344-08175-1

Bags affected have a Best By Date code of May 29, 2020 through August 10, 2020. The Best By Date code can be found on the back or bottom of each bag.

The products were distributed to retail stores in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and California.

Natural Life Pet Products became aware of the elevated levels of vitamin D after receiving complaints from three pet owners of vitamin D toxicity after consuming the product. An investigation revealed a formulation error led to the elevated vitamin D in the product.

Consumers should stop feeding the product listed above. Dogs ingesting elevated levels of Vitamin D may exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling, and weight loss. Vitamin D when consumed at very high levels can lead to serious health issues in dogs including renal dysfunction. Consumers with dogs who have consumed the product listed above and are exhibiting these symptoms, should contact their veterinarian.

Consumers who have purchased the product affected by this recall should dispose of it or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact Natural Life Pet Products at (888) 279-9420 from 8 AM to 5 PM Central Standard time, Monday through Friday, or by email at consumerservices@nutrisca.com for more information.

This is a voluntary recall and is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

We genuinely regret that this has occurred as we place the highest priority on the health of pets.

G & C Dog and Cat Food Recall Expands to Include Multiple Brands

October 28th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation
October 24, 2018 — G & C Raw of Versailles, Ohio, is recalling all products lots manufactured from February 27, 2018 through July 20, 2018, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Affected products are sold under the brand names G & C Raw Dog Food and G & C Raw Cat Food and sold through direct distribution to customers.

Product Image

No product images have been provided by either the company or the Food and Drug Administration.

About Listeria

Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in animals eating the products.

Furthermore, there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Listeria monocytogenes should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, aches, fever, and diarrhea.

Listeria monocytogenes infections can cause serious andsometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Listeria monocytogenes infections are rare, and pets may display symptoms such as mild to severe diarrhea, anorexia, fever, nervous, muscular and respiratory signs, abortion, depression, shock, and death.

In addition to the possibility of becoming sick, such infected animals can shed Listeria monocytogenes through their feces onto their coats and into the home environment and thus serve as sources of infection to humans and other animals in the household.

If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Where Was Product Distributed?

Recalled products were distributed by direct delivery and may have been sent to the following states:

  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee

What’s Being Recalled?

The manufacture dates are included at the end of the lot number.

For example, the pet food product manufactured on February 27, 2018 has a lot code of that ends with 022718.

The company is now recalling all products with lot numbers that end in 022718 through 072018.

The recalled dog food products include:

  • Beef Veggie Mix Dog Food
  • Ground Beef Dog Food
  • Sliced Beef Heart Dog Food
  • Ground Beef Heart Dog Food
  • Kim’s Special Beef Organ Dog Food
  • Ground Chicken Dog Food
  • Chicken Veggie Mix Dog Food
  • Chicken Mix Patties Dog Food
  • Duck Veggie Mix Dog Food
  • Ground Duck Dog Food
  • Ground Rabbit Dog Food
  • Rabbit Veggie Mix Dog Food
  • Ground Lamb Dog Food
  • Lamb Veggie Mix Dog Food
  • Ground Beef Pancreas Dog Food
  • Beef Liver Chunks Dog Food
  • Beef Sweet Breads Dog Food
  • Ground Pork Dog Food
  • Pork Veggie Mix Dog Food
  • Shelby’s Pork Organ Mix Dog Food
  • Ground Pollock Dog Food
  • Turkey Veggie Mix Dog Food
  • Ground Turkey Dog Food
  • Tripe Dog Food

The recalled cat food products include:

  • Pat’s Cat Beef
  • Pat’s Cat Chicken
  • Pat’s Cat Turkey
  • Pat’s Cat Duck
  • Pat’s Cat Rabbit

No confirmed illnesses have been reported to date.

What Caused the Recall?

The recall was initiated as the result of a routine sampling program by the Ohio Department of Agriculture which revealed that some finished products contained the bacteria.

What to Do?

Consumers who have purchased the products are urged to return them to G & C Raw, 225 N. West Street, Versailles, OH, for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact G & C Raw at 937-827-0010 from 9 to 5 pm Easter Time or by email at mgcrawdogfood@yahoo.com.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Dog Food Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.

Performance Dog Pet Food Recall

September 16th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

September 12, 2018 — Bravo Packing, Inc. of Carneys Point, New Jersey, is recalling all Performance Dog products, a frozen raw pet food, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

What’s Recalled?

The following products are affected by the recall:

  • Performance Dog
    Package Size: 2-pound plastic sleeve
    Mfg Date Code: 071418
  • Performance Dog
    Package Size: 5-pound plastic sleeve
    Mfg Date Code: 071418

Performance Dog comes frozen in 2-pound and 5-pound plastic sleeves.

The recalled product has manufacture date code 071418.

The manufacture date codes are printed on the boxes that contain the plastic sleeves, but not on the individual plastic sleeves.

Therefore, if the cardboard box has been discarded, there are no unique identification numbers on the individual sleeves that allow customers to determine that they possess the recalled products.

If you purchased this product since July 14, 2018 and cannot determine whether it is affected by the recall, the FDA recommends that you exercise caution and throw the product away.

About Salmonella

Salmonella can cause illness in animals eating the products, as well as people who handle contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products, infected animals or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.

Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis (an infection of the heart muscle), arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation and urinary tract symptoms.

People who have these symptoms after having contact with this product or an animal that has eaten this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.

Some pets will have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.

Pets exposed to contaminated food can be infected without showing symptoms.

If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Infected animals can also shed Salmonella through their feces and saliva, spreading pathogens into the home environment and to humans and other animals in the household.

No human or animal illnesses have been reported to date.

What Caused the Recall?

Bravo Packing, Inc. is voluntarily recalling this product after a sample of Performance Dog, collected during an FDA inspection, tested positive for Salmonella.

Performance Dog generally works with the distributor Tefco, located in Brooklyn , New York, that fills orders to brick-and-mortar retail stores or to consumers directly.

What to Do?

Consumers with questions should contact Bravo Packing, Inc. at 856-299-1044 (Monday thru Friday, 6 AM to 2 PM, Saturday 4 AM to 9 AM ET) or through the company’s website at www.bravopacking.com.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to https://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Dog Food Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system

Surgery Returns Baby Kitty to His Idyllic Outdoor Life

July 12th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

Baby Kitty – a beautiful Siamese cat – had “a few issues with eating and tummy problems” in 2016, owner Cherry Simkins recalled in an interview.  “I didn’t worry about it that much.”

But the two-year-old feline’s condition worsened.  And one day, Cherry could not find him, despite a long search of all his favorite haunts in the yard of her Torrance home.  By this time Baby Kitty had stopped eating entirely, she said, and she was worried.  Her veterinarian, Dr. Alice Villalobos of Pawspice and Animal Oncology in Hermosa Beach,  suggested that she search places “where you know he couldn’t be – every crack and crevice.” And she found him in a stack of wood that he had crawled inside.

“He realized that he couldn’t eat and he had crawled in there and decided that he would die there,” she said. “He was turning into a skeleton and his food was not being processed by his body.”

She took Baby Kitty to Dr. Edward M. Leeds at Surgical Group for Animals in Torrance, referred by Dr. Villalobos, who had diagnosed the cat with a diaphragmatic hernia.  Cherry thinks that the condition may have been the consequence of a fall.  Many of his abdominal organs had crowded into his chest cavity, impinging on his lungs and heart and threatening his life.

The Surgical Group performed corrective surgery and guided Cherry to Angel Fund, which provided a grant of $500.  The hospital contributed $1,938.  “It wasn’t something I could take care of,“ Cherry said. “I had had some really hard times financially.”

She was told that the likelihood was that her cat would not survive. But she said, “everyone was pulling for Baby Kitty. There was no doubt in my mind that he would pull through.”  He did.  And now, she said, “he is a much sweeter cat.  He’s the most loving cat.  It really shows how thankful he was that he was saved.  He’s really touched a lot of hearts and that makes him all the more special.”

Baby Kitty’s recovery was not without its problems.  He and his brother Poofa are outdoor cats and they want to keep it that way, Cherry said.  He hated being in a cage where he needed to be confined for a month, she said.  “He just went crazy.  It meant I couldn’t work like a needed to.  He needed a lot of love and care. I had to hold him and calm him and keep him settled because he wanted out.  Even wearing a cone, he figured out how to get out of that cage. He was able to lift the edge of it and slide out – and it was a heavy cage.  He flattened his body like a rat.  He didn’t want to be in there.”

Today, life is back to normal for Cherry and her two cats.  “They’re pretty spoiled,” she said.  “They have lots of places to go, here and at the neighbors, I’m sure.  They share a big lot with possums, raccoons, rats and the occasional coyote.

She doesn’t see coyotes as a problem for Baby Kitty and Poofa, who previously lost a leg to surgery.  “I have amazing crows here who love the cats. After the surgery, a coyote came to eat cats on my property. Believe it or not, the crows went insane.

“All of them descended on this area and I came out [wondering] what is all this ruckus? And they were telling me that the coyote was there, glaring at Baby Kitty and Baby Kitty was glaring back. I shooed the coyote off.  It happened one other time. And I came out and sure enough there was a coyote here again.  So the crows take care of the kitties and the kitties catch rats for them.”

She said that her cats are the welcoming committee for her clients who visit the office she built outside her house.  And, she said, “Babby Kitty loves to make me laugh.  He’s a funny creature and he has personality.  He loves to play tag.  He wants you to pet him and if you try to step away, he’ll reach around – without claws – and whack you, like you’ve got to pet him some more.  It’s a game.”

Her experience with Angel Fund, Cherry said, “has helped me to share with all my clients the benefits that are out there – the people, the loving way that they went about it, their generosity.”

AHF Helps the Pets of the Homeless in Orange County

July 12th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

Listen as the AHF Board of Trustees President, Dr. Mark Malo (owner of Garden Grove Dog and Cat Hospital).

It speaks about the fnancial grants we are providing to help the pets of the homeless in Orange County with mobile clinics once a month.  These clinics provide vaccines, flea and tick treatments, ear infection treatments, and other minor treatments.

Listen and learn a bit more about what your donations support!

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

 

 

Bat Found on Corner of S. Country Hills Road and S. Mohler Dr. in Anaheim Tests Positive for Rabies 

June 20th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation
COURTESY–Orange County Animal Care and Orange County Health Care Agency
 
(Santa Ana, CA) – A bat found was found on the corner of S. Country Hills Road and S. Mohler Dr. in Anaheim, California on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at approximately 7:15 p.m. and has since tested positive for rabies.
 
Anyone who may have had physical contact with this bat or saw someone else having contact with the bat is asked to call the OC Health Care Agency (HCA) Epidemiology team at (714) 834-8180 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or (714) 834-7792 after hours to determine the risk for rabies.
 
The rabies virus is found in an animal’s saliva and is transmitted to people by a bite from a rabid animal. Although very rare, contamination of the eyes, mouth or an open wound by the saliva of a rabid animal can also transmit rabies. Most cases of human rabies in the United States in recent years have resulted from bat strains of rabies; bats have very small teeth, and their bites may go unnoticed.
 
Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal. For that reason, preventive treatment to stop the rabies virus from causing illness is given to anyone who may have been exposed to rabies. Medical assistance should be obtained promptly after an exposure so any wound can be cleaned and preventive treatment can be started. This treatment is safe and effective.
 
HCA and OC Animal Care recommend the following actions to minimize the risk of rabies:
 
Avoid all contact with wild animals.
Vaccinate all cats and dogs against rabies.
Do not sleep with open unscreened windows or doors.
If bats are seen inside the house or other structure, close off the area and contact animal control. Once the bat(s) have been removed, close off any areas allowing entrance into the house.
Do not leave pet food outside where it will attract wild animals.
Immediately wash all animal bites with soap and water, being sure to flush the wound well, then contact your doctor.
Report all animal bites to OC Animal Care.
Report stray animals to OC Animal Care.
 
Potential exposure to a bat or other wild animal should be reported to HCA Epidemiology at (714) 834-8180. 
To report a bat in your home, an animal bite, or a stray animal, contact OC Animal Care at (714) 935-6848. 
More information about rabies is available at the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/rabies

Dave’s Dog Food Recall of June 2018

June 14th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

Dog Food Advisor
Saving Good Dogs from Bad Dog Food
https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com

June 12, 2018 — Dave’s Pet Food of Agawam, MA, is voluntarily recalling a single lot of Dave’s Dog Food 95% Premium Beef cans because the products potentially contain elevated levels of beef thyroid hormone.

What’s Recalled?

The recalled product consists of a single batch (548 cases) of 13 oz., 95% premium beef dog food with a UPC # of 85038-11167 and a date code of 08/2020.

  • Dave’s Dog Food 95% Premium Beef
    Size: 13-ounce cans
    UPC Code: 85038-11167
    Date Code: 08/2020

Where Was It Sold?

The affected product was distributed all along the east coast of the US, sold in pet stores and e-commerce sites.

About Beef Thyroid Hormone

Dogs consuming high levels of beef thyroid hormone may exhibit symptoms such as increased thirst and urination, weight loss, increased heart rate and restlessness.

These symptoms may resolve when the consumption of these levels is discontinued.

However, with prolonged consumption these symptoms may increase in severity and may include vomiting, diarrhea, and rapid or labored breathing.

Should these symptoms occur, we recommend pet owners contact their veterinarian immediately.

What Caused the Recall?

The recall was initiated after FDA informed Dave’s that one lot of product was analyzed and found to have elevated levels of thyroid hormone.

FDA analyzed the product after receiving a complaint that four dogs consuming it were found to have low Free T4 (fT4) and Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).

No other Dave’s products, or any other product manufactured by Dave’s Pet Food, are impacted.

The voluntary recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

What to Do?

Consumers who have purchased the specific product listed above should stop feeding it to their dogs.

If consumers have questions or would like to receive a refund or coupon for replacement product, they should call the company at 888-763-2738 Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM ET.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to https://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Dog Food Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.

Merrick Recalls Multiple Dog Treats

May 24th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

May 23, 2018 – Merrick Pet Care, of Amarillo, Texas, is initiating a voluntary recall of a limited amount of beef dog treat varieties due to the potential that they contain elevated levels of a naturally-occurring beef thyroid hormone.

What’s Recalled?

Batch Information

The voluntary recall is limited to the production codes listed below.

To locate the production code, consumers should look on the lower back of the treat bag.

No other production codes, sizes or varieties of these products are affected. The voluntary recall covers only specific production codes of the following beef treat products:

About Beef Thyroid

Dogs consuming high levels of beef thyroid hormone may exhibit the following symptoms: increased thirst and urination, weight loss, increased heart rate and restlessness.

These symptoms may resolve when consumption decreases.

If a dog consumes high levels for a long period of time, these symptoms may increase in severity and may include vomiting, diarrhea and rapid or labored breathing.

If your pet has consumed the product listed and has exhibited any of these symptoms, please discontinue feeding and contact your veterinarian.

What Caused the Recall?

This potential health risk was brought to Merrick’s attention as a result of the FDA sharing one consumer complaint where the dog’s health was temporarily impacted while eating Merrick Backcountry Great Plains Real Beef Jerky 4.5 ounce.

The dog’s health improved and fully recovered after discontinuing consumption of the treat.

Message from Merrick

Pet owners should know there is limited risk given treats are not intended for full nutrition and should only be occasionally consumed.

However, out of an abundance of caution and to maintain trust with our consumers, we are withdrawing all potentially impacted product.

We have not received any similar reports to date from consumers about issues with these products.

As a company of pet owners and pet lovers, we know our consumers place a tremendous amount of trust in us when their pet uses our products.

The quality and safety of our products are the top priority for our company.

We apologize to our retail customers and consumers and sincerely regret any inconvenience and concerns caused by this voluntary recall.

We are working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on this voluntary recall and will cooperate with them fully.

What to Do?

If you have product, please contact Merrick at 800-664-7387 from 8 am to 5 pm Central Time Monday through Friday.

Or by email at customerservice@merrickpetcare.com so we can provide a refund.

Or visit Merrick’s website and fill out a form: www.merrickpetcare.com/customerrelations.

No other Merrick or Castor & Pollux products are impacted. These treats are distributed in the U.S. through pet specialty, grocery and online retailers with limited distribution in Canada.

For more information visit www.MerrickPetCare.com.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to https://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Dog Food Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.

What You Should Have in Your Pet’s First-Aid Kit

May 18th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

From the Humane Society

Learn what supplies you’ll need to keep your cat, dog, or other pet safe and healthy

Everyone who shares a home with a pet should have a basic pet first-aid kit on hand.

Keep your pet’s first-aid kit in your home and take it with you if you are traveling with your pet.

One way to start your kit is to buy a first-aid kit designed for people and add pet-specific items to it. You can also purchase a pet first-aid kit from a pet-supply store or catalog. But you can easily assemble your own kit by gathering the items on our lists below.

Pet-specific supplies

  • Pet first-aid book
  • Phone numbers: your veterinarian, the nearest emergency-veterinary clinic (along with directions!) and a poison-control center or hotline (such as the ASPCA poison-control center, which can be reached at 1-800-426-4435)
  • Paperwork for your pet (in a waterproof container or bag): proof of rabies-vaccination status, copies of other important medical records and a current photo of your pet (in case he gets lost)
  • Nylon leash
  • Self-cling bandage (bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur—available at pet stores and from pet-supply catalogs)
  • Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting (don’t use this if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing or otherwise having difficulty breathing)

Basic first-aid supplies

  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
  • Blanket (a foil emergency blanket)
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Gauze rolls
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting—do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert)
  • Ice pack
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
  • Rectal thermometer (your pet’s temperature should not rise above 103°F or fall below 100°F)
  • Scissors (with blunt ends)
  • Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
  • Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies)
  • Tweezers
  • A pillowcase to confine your cat for treatment
  • A pet carrier

Pre-assembled first-aid kits

The hassle of creating a kit for your pet can be reduced by purchasing one pre-assembled.

Other useful items

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), if approved by a veterinarian for allergic reactions. A veterinarian must tell you the correct dosage for your pet’s size.
  • Ear-cleaning solution
  • Expired credit card or sample credit card (from direct-mail credit-card offers) to scrape away insect stingers
  • Glucose paste or corn syrup (for diabetic dogs or those with low blood sugar)
  • Nail clippers
  • Non-prescription antibiotic ointment
  • Penlight or flashlight
  • Plastic eyedropper or syringe
  • Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) to clean the thermometer
  • Splints and tongue depressors
  • Styptic powder or pencil (sold at veterinary hospitals, pet-supply stores, and your local pharmacy)
  • Temporary identification tag (to put your local contact information on your pet’s collar when you travel)
  • Towels
  • Needle-nosed pliers

Common-sense advice

In addition to the items listed above, include anything your veterinarian has recommended specifically for your pet.

Check the supplies in your pet’s first-aid kit occasionally and replace any items that have expired.

For your family’s safety, keep all medical supplies and medications out of the reach of children and pets.

To spot a true service dog, check its behavior – not its vest

May 18th, 2018 by Animal Health Foundation

    • From the YakimaHerald.com
    • Jim Camden – Spokesman-Review

Apr 6, 2018

service dog
Sheryl Womble embraces Nia, her German Shepherd service dog, after exercising near their home on Wednesday. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

OLYMPIA – For the past 20 years, service dogs have helped Sheryl Womble with day-to-day tasks like opening doors and picking things up off the floor, and even taking off her coat and gloves.

So when a dog wearing a “service animal” vest growled and lunged at her dog during a crowded community gathering several years ago, she knew the menacing dog was not a trained service animal. Womble, a quadriplegic, did the only thing she could.

She maneuvered her wheelchair to block the attacking dog. She got bit.

To be a real service dog takes extensive training, at least a year and sometimes longer depending on what the dog will be doing to help its owner.

A new Washington law that allows businesses to question whether the animal accompanying a customer is a true service animal may provide some clarity and keep some people from trying to pass off their untrained pet, Womble and others said.

“It might help a little,” said Debbie Wing of LynnDee’s Grooming and Dog Training Center. “It might scare some people off” from trying to pass off their pet as a service animal just because they want to bring it into a store or restaurant, or take it with them on a bus or plane.

The law, which was signed late last month by Gov. Jay Inslee and takes effect Jan. 1, makes it a civil infraction with a penalty of as much as $500 to falsely claim an animal is a service animal in a “place of public accommodation.”

But the ADA does not set up a certification program for service animals, Wing said, so it’s easy for a person to make that claim and hard for a business to challenge it. Under the new law, a business employee or law enforcement officer can ask the owner two questions if they suspect a dog that is causing a disturbance isn’t a true service animal: Is the animal required because of a disability? What tasks is the animal trained to perform?

Deputy Mark Gregory, a spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, said the new law could provide some clarity for officers responding to complaints that come in from time to time. Whether it will result in more calls, or fewer, is hard to predict, but the department will sit down with legal advisers and human rights advocates to form a policy before briefing deputies on procedures, he said.

“This always has been a case of you don’t want to turn around and infringe on someone’s rights who is disabled and needs that assistance,” Gregory said. “As with any other law, we’re going to have to use common sense.”

Usually, law enforcement is called when a dog or another animal is creating a nuisance or disturbance in a store or a restaurant and the owner refuses to leave, claiming it’s a service animal.

But the size or breed of a dog is not an indicator, she added. A 6-foot man who is diabetic could have a Chihuahua for a service animal, trained to detect by smell when he needs to take his insulin.

Also not an indicator: a vest on the dog or a badge the owner is wearing that says service animal. Those are available online, for a price, by filling out a form. “It’s a racket,” Wing said.

Buying a trained dog can cost thousands of dollars and require years on a waiting list, she said.

Training a service animal also takes time and money. Womble said owners start with basic obedience, and work toward specific tasks they need the dog to perform. They keep a log of training and tasks accomplished, and the instructors used. They refresh their training every year or so.

“You never stop working your dog,” she said.

Most people quit, because they either don’t have the time or money, or both. And really all they want is to take their pet with them somewhere, she said.

The law does not cover therapy dogs, which have separate training to go into schools, hospitals or other facilities to help people. Nor does it cover comfort or emotional support animals, terms that some people use for a wide variety of pets they might claim they need to calm their nerves.

Gregory wonders if that might be something the Legislature will have to consider in the future, because some returning veterans and others with post-traumatic stress disorder do have a legitimate need for a therapy animal to help them cope with severe anxiety they might experience in aspects of daily life.

PTSD isn’t covered under the ADA, so they aren’t included in the state law, he said.

An officer who believes an owner is falsely claiming their disruptive dog is a service animal will be able to write a ticket for a civil infraction. The owner can contest the ticket and possible fine of $500 in court by presenting proof that the dog is a service animal.

Judges familiar with the ADA should know not to accept a simple certificate from some website, Womble said. They should ask to see the owner’s log with the times, dates and places where the training took place, and the instructors who provided it.

If the law cuts down on incidents with untrained dogs, there may be an added benefit to real service animals and their owners, who sometimes get critical looks or comments from people, Wing said.

Rep. Mike Steele, R-Chelan, the sponsor of the legislation, said the goal of the law is to balance the rights of disabled people to have the assistance they need with the rights of the rest of the public to be safe from misbehaving and possibly aggressive dogs. It’s designed to give businesses and police some options when there’s a problem.

“As long as (a dog) is not misbehaving and being disruptive, you’re not going to have a problem,” Steele said. “No one’s going to come after your dog if it’s by your side, behaving itself.”