Those dogs' dinners could be swapped out for a plant-based food under a proposal before the Los Angeles City Board of Animal Services Commissioners. The change, which commissioners could decide Tuesday, would make the city's shelter system the first in the nation to feed its canine residents a vegan diet, according to its chief veterinarian.Supporters, who include musician and animal rights activist Moby and the feminist lawyer Lisa Bloom, say that is one of the selling points: to make L.A. shelter dogs the vanguard of a meat-free movement."If we adopt this, it's one more thing that proves to the world that Los Angeles really is the progressive capital," Moby, whose real name is Richard Hall, testified at the board's meeting last month.
The idea was proposed by Commissioner Robert Wolfson, a Hollywood screenwriter who cited research that he contended shows vegan diets "eliminate" many health problems in dogs, which are omnivores. But he said rethinking the dogs' meals is about far more sweeping matters -- the environmental effect of a meat industry that produces the main ingredients in lots of dog food and the ethics of feeding animals to animals.
The city's chief veterinarian, Jeremy Prupas, was not convinced. In a report to the commission, he recommended rejecting the proposal, saying that it could deprive dogs of sufficient protein, calcium and phosphorus and that it could be inadequate for injured, pregnant or lactating pups. Prupas said he'd consulted three clinical nutritionists at veterinary medical schools, one shelter medicine specialist and a veterinary toxicologist who works with a pet food company. None endorsed vegan dog diets, he testified."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)," Prupas wrote in his report. "However, that is quite a different population than the group of dogs we encounter daily in our animal shelters."
That argument precipitated several diarrhea-related comments in nearly two hours of testimony at the commission's Nov. 28 meeting, where pro-vegan voices dominated. Several pet owners, including Bloom, insisted that their vegan dogs had never suffered from digestive problems.