Should Shelter Dogs Be Vegan?
Posted December 22, 2017 10:49 a.m. EST
Should our dogs go vegan?
A proposal making its way through the Los Angeles Animal Services commission could require that all dogs in the city’s public shelters be fed an all-vegan diet.
Supporters say the roughly 336,000 pounds of animal-based dog food in the shelter system accounts for the deaths of more than 20,000 chickens, 10,000 turkeys and 1,000 lambs every year — figures they say have a devastating environmental impact.
“This is about the long-term survival of every man, woman and child in this room, and all of the people in our lives,” said Roger Wolfson, the commissioner and television screenwriter who first proposed the plan.
The idea has been met with a skeptical response from the city’s veterinarians and others in the animal protection world.
During a November meeting, Jeremy Prupas, chief veterinarian for the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services, said he spoke with clinical nutritionists, a shelter medicine specialist and a veterinary toxicologist. None of them, he said, “thought it would be a good idea to feed shelter dogs a vegan diet.” When another commissioner asked him if any other U.S. shelter gave vegan food to animals, Prupas did not hesitate: “No.”
After dozens of comments supporting the change, the commission asked for a formal analysis on the benefits and risks of moving dogs in the shelters to a vegan diet. Staff members are expected to deliver the report in February. Still, the proposal to go vegan has attracted several high-profile supporters, including Moby, the musician who also runs a vegan restaurant in the Silver Lake neighborhood.
“If we adopt this, it’s one more thing that proves to the world that Los Angeles really is the progressive capital,” Moby said during the meeting last month.
Critics point to two primary reasons to keep the omnivore diet: expense and digestion. Moving to a vegan diet with higher fiber is likely to mean frequent doggy diarrhea, said Madeline Bernstein, the president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, which would make it difficult for staff to maintain the health of thousands of dogs. (Bernstein described herself as “an occasional and conscious” meat-eater and said the group is careful to have vegan food at staff meetings and events.)