Delta Society has recently announced a policy prohibiting animals fed raw meat or raw animal products from participating in their Pet Partners program. This policy was established because of research indicating dogs fed raw meat are much more likely to be shedding harmful bacteria like Salmonella and drug resistant E. coli in their feces compared to dogs fed commercial or home cooked diets, and the fact that these dogs come into close and frequent contact with people that are more susceptible to infections and at increased risk having severe infections.
Not surprisingly, internet chat sites are abuzz, and there's much condemnation and consternation from some. Some of the more vocal minority are stating that they'll just lie and say that they're not feeding raw. I guess such dishonest actions would be based on a combination of ignorance and arrogance - feeding raw is your own decision, but blatantly flouting a policy that was put in place to reduce risks to those most susceptible is stupid and irresponsible.
One of the problems with peoples' reactions is the fact that they are confusing two separate issues. One debate is whether raw feeding is more healthy or more harmful to the pet. That's a controversial area, but this policy has nothing to do with that. This policy deals with the increased likelihood that raw-fed pets are shedding harmful bacteria. That's been very well proven in scientific studies. Do raw-fed pets cause disease in people in hospitals? We don't know. However, we have enough evidence to indicate there is the potential for increased risk to patients, and that added risk can be eliminated by not feeding raw meat products.
Hopefully, people will realize that this policy has been put in place for a good reason, and that it's focused on protection of people at high risk of serious illness. It's not a broad condemnation of raw diets, it's just a statement that it is not considered appropriate for dogs that will have contact with high risk populations - a recommendation that's far from new.
Disclosure: I'm a member of Delta Society's Medical Advisory Board. However, the opinions expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Delta Society.