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A foray into pet food

Jim Suber

By A Contributor

From the “Why didn’t we think of that sooner?” department…Kansas State University, long a feed, milling and grain science world leader, is only now going to create a pet food research and teaching department.

Of course, Kansas has been home for decades and decades to fine pet food making companies, some of them leading brands sold everywhere anything is sold on the planet.

It has become perfectly obvious that pets are big business in America. Pet health care and pet nutrition and pet training are three big items to go along with clothing and toys and sleeping quarters. This has always bemused me, who thinks pets belong outdoors and should be semi-wild at any rate. I especially wonder about the degree of care, or more specifically, the pampering given some pets when I think back on the times in the Navy during the 1960s when we visited many third world countries and saw many humans literally starving to death. But that was then and there and this is now and here.

Kansas State’s belated entry into the pet food realm should be nothing but a positive for the university and another discipline that turns out well educated people equipped to make real contributions in a culture that really does need professional help for its pets in many areas, nutrition not the least of them…

Unfortunately, some people still steal cattle. I’ve a friend long in the cattle business who says he wouldn’t own any cattle that weren’t identified with a hot-iron registered brand. A recent story about cattle stolen from the Natoma area reminded me of another rustling long ago in western Kansas told to me by a brand inspector.

The lawman was to meet the cattle owner at the ranch and see the place in the pasture where the animals were last known to be. As they topped a hill and paused, looking down into the pasture, the owner cried out, “There those SOBs are, gone!” And gone they were indeed, my friend noted…

Remember when over-wrought animal lovers managed to have all horse processing plants shut down in the United States in 2007? One awful unintended result was that unwanted or undesirable horses were often abandoned and/or neglected, whereas before they were worth something to their owners as pet food or even human food. Another was that the horses that had reached the end of the trail still had many miles to go after all. They were often shipped hundreds or even several thousand miles out of the country to foreign packing plants where there was no oversight on whether they were treated humanely or handled properly. This was yet another case where cocksure and arrogant activists failed to acknowledge probable bad consequences from their actions, which greatly increased suffering of horses with more neglect and harsher handling at the end.

Now, much later, some of those ills might be reversing a little.  A firm at Rockville, Mo., says it is going to open a horse processing facility with 50 jobs by the end of summer. The operators said the plant would be inspected and regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and that its internal standards would exceed those required by government to ensure quality in handling, testing of meat and tracing of ownership.

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