Los Angeles's Animal Services Commission will vote in 2018 on a proposal to provide only vegan kibble to shelter canines.
An LA-based screenwriter and Animal Services Commission board member named Roger Wolfson proposed vegan kibble diets in dog shelters.
At a recent board meeting, Wolfson told the ASC committee:
"This idea that LA Animal Services could stop supporting the killing of farm animals just to feed dogs that no one questions are omnivores, thereby having our small department do its part in protecting the environment, it seemed like a no brainer."
However, canine dietary evolution has only begun to evolve over the course of their domestication. Their wolf ancestors are carnivorous. Cats are well-known to be obligate carnivores, which is why the proposal is only aiming to alter the diet of shelter canines.
While even obligate carnivores can benefit from added vegetables in their diet - and will in fact occasionally self-medicate on grass for nausea and GI upset in the wild - the meaty portion of the diet should dominate the veggie to meat ratio.
Veterinarians recommend that dogs fed a raw diet receive supplementation for additional vitamins and minerals because they are often fed organ meat, which is missing vital nutrients like magnesium found in bones.
However, some dogs have been shown to thrive on a vegan diet when nutrition is carefully addressed. Wolfson cited these cases in his proposal, believing vegan kibble would be a better alternative to cheap meat-byproduct kibble that shelters can afford, and which has been linked to a myriad of ailments, including kidney disease.
"We have to embrace the fact that the raising and killing of animals for food purposes must only be done if we have absolutely no other choice. This is about the long-term survival of every man, woman, and child in this room, and all of the people in our lives."
Supporters of Wolfson's proposal include animal rights activist Moby and feminist lawyer Lisa Bloom, who has made headlines after resigning from Harvey Weinstein's team in light of his sexual harassment allegations.
LA Animal Services' chief veterinarian, Jeremy Prupas, opposes Wolfson's suggestion, stating that the canines would not receive adequate nutrition, such as protein, calcium, and phosphorous, and believes such a diet to be particularly inappropriate for injured, pregnant, or nursing dogs.
Prupas defended his stance, saying:
"We recognize that individual, privately owned dogs can do well on a wide variety of diets (Commercial, Vegetarian, Organic, Grain-free, Gluten-free, Raw, and Vegan). However, that is quite a different population than the group of dogs we encounter daily in our animal shelters."
Prupas referenced his professional research and communication with veterinary nutritionists who also opposed the idea. His research led him to counter-propose that, hygienically and logistically, vegan shelter diets wouldn't be plausible based on the projected increased fecal output. Prupas further thought the cost of vegan kibble would be too high.
Wolfson and Bloom countered with testimony surrounding their plant-based canines not having excessive or unmanageable bowel movements. Wolfson also said he has secured vegan kibble companies whose costs are comparable to what the shelter now pays.
Many pet owners and veterinary professionals advocate for steering away from commercial kibble that contains unhealthy slaughterhouse leftovers and instead focusing on crude all-meat products that are also free of fillers like grain and corn.
ASC will review the proposal over the course of 60 days and vote on it sometime after the New Year. They meet again on January 9.
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