A New Jersey federal court judge has signed off on the creation of a $24 million fund to settle legal claims arising from contaminated pet food that sickened thousands of dogs and cats in the U.S. in 2007.
The settlement agreement stems from events that began in March 2007, when U.S. health officials started receiving reports of dogs and cats becoming sick after consuming pet food produced by Menu Foods, Ltd. Testing later revealed the presence of melamine-contaminated wheat gluten and rice protein in a number of dog and cat food products manufactured by Menu Foods.
The $24 million settlement fund is intended to compensate affected consumers for harm caused by the tainted pet food, including reimbursement of veterinarian treatment costs and monetary compensation for the loss of a pet. In order to participate in the settlement, affected pet owners must complete and submit a claim form must by November 24, 2008. The settlement fund will be paid into by Menu Foods and companies that sold the tainted pet food in their stores -- including Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Target Corp., Petco Animal Supplies, Inc., and PetSmart, Inc., according to Bloomberg.com. According to the Associated Press, over 10,000 pet owners have filed claims so far, and the average dollar amount of the claims analyzed so far is $1,500. A special web site has been created to help consumers learn more about the settlement: www.petfoodsettlement.com.