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Poison your pets with multinational offerings

by Tom Lonsdale
Vet and author

Veterinarian Tom Lonsdale is selling plenty of his book Raw Meaty Bones in the US but the Australian media seems to have blacked him out because the multinational pet food companies don't want their dodgy doggy tucker exposed.

Poisons injure health or destroy life. Some are quick acting — strychnine and cyanide — others act slowly — alcohol and tobacco — although addiction speeds up the process. Sometimes packet labels warn about the contents. ‘Smoking kills’ say the labels, but only now after years of anti-tobacco lobbying.

Alcohol containers sometimes carry labels recommending limited intake of the poison, but generally carry no warnings. Some poisons are banned and some are sanctioned and some aren’t even recognised as poisons. Take artificial pet foods for instance — widely available in supermarkets, petrol stations and corner stores (do they still exist?) — they injure the health of a majority of the world’s pets, but few folks know or are allowed to know.

As a veterinary practitioner confronted by the procession of bedraggled diet-affected pets attending my clinic I was, at first, too busy dealing with the problems to notice their origin. Besides, I was handicapped by a university education and constant bombardment by pet food ads. But eventually I woke up to my naiveté, my complicity, in promoting artificial modern diets to the pets under my care. Pet owners accepted my apologies for past misleading advice and together we set about helping their artificial-diet-addicted pets.

By the early nineties a group of Australian vets, The Raw Meaty Bone Lobby, started to chip away at the artificial pet food dogma encasing the veterinary profession. The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), itself in receipt of pet food company funds, led the counter attack. Within the professional journals the AVA banned discussion of diet and diet induced dental disease and issued media statements against the dissident members.

Hostilities escalated and spilt over into the UK veterinary profession with the US pet food regulator, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), involved in exchanges too. Along the way the Western Plains Zoo, WWF, ABC Science Show, a professor at the NHMRC and numerous university lecturers and university departments were shown to be involved with, or actively promoting the interests of, the artificial pet food industry. High Court Judge, Justice Michael Kirby, Patron of the RSPCA, justified that organisation’s involvement with Colgate-Palmolive, makers of ‘Science Diet’, on the basis that the RSPCA needed the money.

Besides the toothpaste maker the other major players are American transnationals, Mars Inc. and Procter and Gamble and the Swiss giant Nestlé. Money talks and the watchdogs stay silent, whether they be protecting against cruelty to animals, truth in labelling or the welfare of children in our schools. A book was needed to tell it the way it is and attempt to get some sort of debate going.

Starting in October 1996 I sat in my garret scribbling away at Happy Zone, for that was the working title. I hoped that by working in the ‘Zone’ I could make people happy by revealing sombre truths and showing how things could be better. Natural pet food is cheaper, pets live healthier longer lives, vet bills reduce and the environment gets a better deal. Except for the artificial pet food companies and their veterinary allies it’s a win, win, win situation.

Richard Potter the defamation lawyer, two barristers and four other lawyers commented on the text and Happy Zone metamorphosed into Raw Meaty Bones: promote health. By August 2001 the book was ready to be launched, but instead more layers were added to the multi-layered scandal. The Australian newspaper had exclusive rights to a story about the book scheduled for Saturday 18 August — but the story and the colour photographs finished in the can. Michael Stutchbury, the editor of The Australian, failed to return calls or answer correspondence regarding the newspaper’s back flip.

On Sunday 19 August the Sydney newspaper The Sun Herald scheduled to publish an 800 word exposé based on revelations contained in Raw Meaty Bones, but that finished in the can too. Worse still, an advertorial headline in the paper’s science pages told readers: NEW FOOD HELPS PETS LIVE LONGER. (The Mars company Uncle Ben’s of Australia have since released a new line of pet foods which they claim: ‘Add life to the life of your pet.’)

Messrs Laws, Jones and Carlton were sent copies of Raw Meaty Bones, as were 50 other journalists. Almost all appear to have ignored the information and their employers still broadcast pet food ads. Bert Newton, on his Good Morning Australia program, went to air with a sanitised version of the story — the book Raw Meaty Bones didn’t get a mention; neither was it acknowledged that the diet-affected Labrador dog in Bert’s story was filmed at the author’s veterinary clinic in 1994! Regarding the multi-layered pet food scandal, viewers were spared the details, but Bert did encourage us to feed our pets raw meaty bones.

Is truth too hard to bear; is the full story too difficult for Australia’s journalists? Will a slow poison affect us all? Time may tell, but at least we have a benchmark.

Tom Lonsdale

PO Box 6096
Windsor Delivery Centre
NSW 2756

Tel: 02 4574 0537
Fax: 02 4574 0538

Additional information and online purchase of Raw Meaty Bones: promote health go to:


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