Distraught dog owners seek redress after much loved family pets killed or injured by contaminated food

24 August 2021
Leading class actions law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers is investigating a class action against Maffra & District Knackery Pty Ltd (also trading as Backmans Greyhound Meats and Backmans Greyhound Supplies) (‘Maffra Knackery’) after dozens of dogs died or fell ill after eating pet food produced by the company.

Last week, PrimeSafe and Agriculture Victoria announced test results confirmed the presence of toxic indospicine in meat processed by Maffra Knackery.

Indospicine is found in plant species from the Indigofera genus and is toxic to dogs. Grazing animals that consume these plants accumulate toxin residues in their tissues over time, which may remain present for months after consumption, making them unsuitable for use in pet food.

Owner Laura is still struggling after losing her much loved 13-year-old Labrador Hodge last month to liver disease caused by contaminated food from the knackery.
“He meant everything to me. He was my security, he gave me motivation to get up, he was somebody to talk to. I’m still finding it very difficult to deal with, “Laura said.

Hodge became ill in early July and died just a week later.

“The vet knew straight away it was caused by toxins in the dog food. There had been other reports around about dogs getting sick. Some people lost several dogs.”

Maurice Blackburn Senior Associate Charles Noonan said that Maffra Knackery had an obligation to its customers to ensure its products were free from toxins like indospicine, which had the potential to cause serious illness or death to dogs.

‘There are many toxins that are known to cause serious health issues to dogs. Manufacturers of dog food have obligations to their customers to ensure these toxins are not present in their products and, just like any other product, that they are fit for their intended purpose,’ Mr Noonan said.

‘The fact that Maffra Knackery may not have breached any food manufacturing laws highlights the relaxed regulation of the pet food industry but doesn’t exonerate Maffra Knackery from liability for breaching its obligations to customers as a manufacturer and supplier of dog food. We believe Maffra Knackery may have breached its duties to customers under the laws of negligence, contract, and the Australian Consumer Law. Although Maffra Knackery may assert that it wasn’t aware that its dog food contained indospicine, its knowledge of the toxin isn’t necessary for us to establish that it breached its obligations.’

To date, it is believed that meat processed and sold by Maffra Knackery between May and July 2021 has caused the deaths of at least 24 dogs and the illness of at least 44 others.

“Obviously we can’t undo the harm that has already been suffered, but we’re seeking redress against Maffra Knackery for doing the wrong thing and we hope to make clear that there will be real consequences for companies whose actions cause harm to animals,” Mr Noonan said.

“Importantly, we are acting pro bono for victims of this misconduct but may seek to recover our costs from Maffra Knackery if our proceedings against them are successful. This means that no one will have to dip into their pockets to fund any litigation.”

Maurice Blackburn is Australia’s leading class actions law firm with an unparalleled record of helping our clients secure the nation’s largest class action recoveries, totalling over $3 billion since 1998. We have achieved the nation’s biggest ever class actions recoveries, with 13 of our largest class actions recovering in excess of $100 million each.

Pet owners that experienced the illness or death of their dog after purchasing Maffra Knackery pet food between May and July 2021 are invited to register their interest with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

Media inquiries: Paddy Murphy on 0490 297 391 or pmurphy@mauriceblackburn.com.au

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