‘Pet Fooled’ Director Questions Pet Food Safety

Just this January, a drug used for euthanasia turned up in canned dog food, killing at least four pugs. Unlike human food, pet food in the U.S. has very little oversight.

I spoke with Kohl Harrington, the director of†”Pet Fooled,” a new documentary about†the pet food industry’s lack of regulation.

Your film contrasts the marketing message†of big pet food companies with the experiences of†pet owners.†

I think because their market share and profit are public, most of them, at the end of the day, have to make money.

There are small, independent companies out there that have gotten involved in the industry because they build appropriate food on the market. But when it gets†into companies buying other companies, it becomes about market share and how many ways you can get their food and how convenient is it. So it’s very complicated.

How aware is the public now about the pet food industry and its regulations?

It’s progressing, I think, slowly. I don’t know if this is because I live in L.A., but I’m not getting feedback from people who watch the movie and say it’s crazy or that it was boring.

There’s a lot of confusion and options. The product’s on the market, and it’s here. And it says “100 percent complete and balanced.” So people think it’s 100 percent appropriate.

So, that’s what the film questioned: “Was it appropriate?”

What topics do you wish the film included?†

I wish I could’ve talked about bioavailability, how much of that ingredient [corn] is stored on the body, versus if you were going to take raw meat.

Companies will say corn is a great source of protein. OK, yeah, there’s protein in it, but it’s about how much of it is bio-available for the animal.

I wish that the companies would have met with me and proved me wrong. I wish that I could met with the heads of Milo’s Kitchen and Waggin Train, for them to tell us that we were wrong.

One of the stories that stood out to me in your film was the history of kibble.†

Mark Warren was a veterinarian, and he wanted to make the first prescription diet. It got very complex because of the meat rations in†World War II, so the government knew that people were more likely to share their meat with their animal.

Mark Warren was hired by the government to create options to keep the animals alive. So he created a meat-free pet food in order for the pets to live without dying.

The theme of it was a better quality pet food. So ultimately that became Science Diet. Now it’s become a massive profitable industry.

The biggest question that I get from people is, “What dry food do you recommend? We have no other option than to feed dry food.”

And I, for the film, don’t recommend any brands.

We’re meeting with people who run a variety of different companies right now and talking with them.†Because the big thing after this movie is you need to be able to talk to your companies. You need be able to know where things are sourced from. Why are things secret?

At the end of the day, one of the big takeaways is that you have to be proactive if you’re a pet owner.

Pet Fooled†is available on Netflix and other streaming services. See the movie’s website for a complete list.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Photo Credit: Kohl Harrington


Carl R
Carl R9 days ago


Twila H
Twila H10 days ago


Joemar K
Joemar Karvelis11 days ago


Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill11 days ago

Dogs & cats need to eat meat.

Ly H
Ly Hai14 days ago


Jonathan H
Jonathan Harper17 days ago


Telica R
Telica R19 days ago

Thanks for sharing

Leo C
Leo Custer21 days ago

Thank you for posting!

Carl R
Carl R25 days ago


Clare O
Clare O'Beara29 days ago

Thanks. Maize is not a natural food for most household pets. Budgies, hamsters, sure. Other than that this is just a cheap way of using up a cheap oversupply of maize.