Tue, Jul 06, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Effem threatens lawsuit over`uncaring' claims

CANINE CONCERNS The distributor for Pedigree food said it would protect its reputation against those who allege it has intentionally harmed pets

STAFF WRITER , WITH DPA

Effem Foods Taiwan (美商艾汾), the Asia distributor of Pedigree dog food, yesterday threatened to sue those who accuse the company of intentionally poisoning dogs.

In a statement distributed yesterday Effem said that recent news reports about the company are "absolutely false, misleading, and irresponsible," and said it was "studying and planning to sue those who made them."

The statement didn't refer to any individual or organization for possible libel filing that Pedigree would make.

But it came just a few days after the Care for Animals and Protect the Earth Organization (關愛動物保護協會), a Taipei-based non-profit organization, last week accused Pedigree of failing to control the quality of its products manufactured in Thailand, causing kidney failure in dogs.

At a Taipei press conference last week, the group was joined by several dog owners who complained that Effem had shown little sympathy for the lives of their lost pets and had even suggested dog owners buy a new Pedigree product made specially for dogs suffering from kidney failure.

"Effem has never done anything and will never do anything to intentionally harm pets," Allan West, general manager of Effem in North Asia, said in a statement yesterday.

"We will defend ourselves vigorously," West said.

"In no way should those reports raise doubts about any compensation agreements you have reached with us or about the safety of our products," he said.

"We apologize for the Pedigree Dry Good incident and more than 80 percent of affected owners have reached settlement with Effem over compensation for their sickened or dead dogs," West said.

The Care for Animals and Protect the Earth Organization said last week that an international class-action suit had been filed against Pedigree in a US Federal Court in early May and a correlation between certain batches of Pedigree dog food manufactured in Thailand and numerous cases of kidney failure among dogs in this country early this year had been indirectly confirmed.

But Effem responded that claims that a US court had "accepted" a lawsuit containing these allegations were also misleading.

"Anyone can take the purely administrative step of filing a lawsuit, and doing so does not indicate at all that the court accepts or agrees with the charges," Effem said in the statement.

The company also said several allegations are "ridiculous and should be rejected by anyone with good judgment and a rational mind."

These allegations include the number of dogs affected by an incident involving Pedigree Dry dog food earlier this year, the company's intention to harm pets as an intentional business strategy, the involvement in the incident by the UN and the cause of the problem, according to the statement.

However, the Care for Animals and Protect the Earth Organization said that it is not afraid of being sued.

"We welcome their filing the lawsuit and wait to see what happens," association director Shen Jung-chen (沈蓉震) said. "We are not afraid because we have evidence against them. In fact, many Taiwanese dog owners want to file a class suit against Effem to seek compensation."

The group said last week that it has hired a legal adviser, Paul Maas Risenhoover, to file a lawsuit against Pedigree in the US. Risenhoover said he would seek at least US$100,000 in compensation for each wrongful dog death in Asia.

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