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Delta and The Puppet Master
Written By: Susan Thixton

The Delta Society agreed to an interview from, two weeks after questions were submitted, it seems they changed their mind. They didn't even have the integrity to admit it.

I admit I was shocked when The Delta Society agreed to interview. I requested interview on June 7, 2010 and promptly received the following message on June 8, 2010...


Hi Susan –
Please feel free to submit your questions to me, so I can then determine who is the most appropriate person to respond to them and/or be interviewed.

Thank you,
JoAnn Turnbull
Marketing Director
Delta Society
425.679.5514 (direct line)


Here were my questions...sent June 8, 2010 to JoAnn Turnbull...


Thank you for this opportunity to send interview questions to Delta Society. I'm sure you are aware that I write to advocate for pet owners. Knowing which side of the fence I stand on, I ask Delta Society the following questions...

Your recent decision to ban pets fed a raw meat diet from participating in Pet Partner activities has caused quite a stir. The first few questions I have are addressing the concerns of pet owners regarding this decision.

Delta Society has stated this decision is based on scientific studies that show pets fed a raw meat diet can shed risky pathogenic bacteria in their feces. However, on the flip side, it has as well been scientifically proven that regardless of diet, a large percentage of all dogs carry (and thus shed) risky bacteria in their feces. Author and raw pet food advocate Lew Olson PhD provided Delta Society with an equal amount (if not greater amount) of research proving that the risk you are founding this decision on is not strictly related to dogs fed a raw diet. How does Delta Society respond to the vast evidence provided to you linking dogs in general, not specifically a raw meat fed dog, with risky pathogenic bacteria?

While pet owners are not wishing Delta Society to discount scientific research, is this a fair decision seeming that it neglects an equal amount of scientific research linking the same bacteria shedding in kibble and canned pet food?

The time frame of this decision is concerning to pet owners as well. As stated in a June 2, 2010 letter to Delta Society from the American Humane Association, "the sudden announcement raises a number of significant questions and serious concerns about the decision process." Pet Owners that feed a raw meat diet have diligently researched and properly transitioned their pet to this style of feeding. Your six week time frame to comply with the raw meat feeding ban is extremely brief. Is there a reason for the brief transition period? Please explain.

The style of feeding a pet and/or the type or brand of food is a very personal decision and a basic freedom. Thus, many of the sentiments shared with regarding Delta Society's ban of raw meat fed Pet Partners are anger, frustration, and dismay. Removing both sides of the scientific research in your response, is Delta Society denying pet owners a basic freedom with this decision? Please explain to former Pet Partners that feel it is.

On the Delta Society webpage that explains this decision, one of your suggestions to pet owners is "You can look for a balanced diet from any of the reputable pet-food manufacturer, preferably one labeled in accordance with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). You should also consult with your veterinarian." Many of the AAFCO approved pet foods contain ingredients that violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The Act specifically states a food (food defined as anything consumed by humans and animals) would be deemed adulterated and thus prohibited if it contains any part of a diseased animal or an animal that has died other than by slaughter. The FDA, despite Federal law, allows 4D animals (Dead, Dying, Diseased, and Disabled) to become rendered pet food ingredients with AAFCO approval. In 2002 the FDA published a report titled 'Risk of Pentobarbital in Dog Food'. The FDA findings linked the pet food ingredients Animal Fat, Meat and Bone Meal, Meat Meal, and Animal Digest to be most likely to contain a euthanized animal (and the lethal drug used to kill that animal). This is not speculation on my part; all of the above can be verified on the FDA website and within the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. How does Delta Society stand on pet owners feeding Pet Partner pets a food that violates Federal law? With regards to 'You should also consult with your veterinarian', most veterinarians recommend pet foods to clients that contain the ingredient Animal Fat; thus again the pet food could violate Federal law. How does Delta Society stand on veterinarian recommended pet foods that violate Federal food safety law? Regardless to the FDA not enforcing Federal Food Safety laws, will the Delta Society take a lawful stand on this issue? Will Delta Society in the future ban Pet Partners from consuming a pet food that contains ingredients the FDA has determined to be likely to contain a euthanized animal?

Lastly I must ask direct questions regarding the influence of your Board Member Brenda Bax of Purina Pet Food on this decision. The Delta Society webpage announcing and addressing the questions of this decision added the following statement " No pet food manufacturer representatives contacted, encouraged, lobbied, or influenced the Delta Society Medical Advisory Group in recommending to the board that they approve a Raw Protein Diet Policy." Who sits on the Delta Society Medical Advisory Group? And what companies or associations do they work for? Does Delta Society guarantee pet owners that Ms. Bax was not involved in any fashion in the raw meat ban?

Is Delta Society aware that Ms. Bax and Purina Pet Food has applied for a patent titled 'Methods for marketing corporate brands'? This patent seems to seek a control over corporations involvement with animal charities. Stepping aside from the terminology or suspected purpose of the patent, would Delta Society approve of any pet corporation using pet charity volunteer information, obtained indirectly by association with an animal charity, to market or pitch their products tailored to the volunteers' information (again obtained indirectly by association with the animal charity, not obtained directly from consumers)?

Because of my strong commitment to advocating for pet owners, the above questions will most likely be perceived by Delta Society as challenging at best. Please know, my concern is the basic American right to safe food and freedom of choice; I have no ax to grind with any animal charity or corporation. I await your response.


Two weeks later, I sent JoAnn Turnbull a follow up email, on June 21 I received the following reply...


Hi Susan –

Thanks for the follow-up. I apologize as thought I had responded earlier. As we have received similar questions from several people we are working to consolidate the questions we have been asked so we can reply to all at once in a more concise manner – currently working to be able to do so by the end of this week.

Thanks again for your interest and contacting us.



That week passed, no response to interview questions.


Yesterday, I emailed JoAnn again. This is what she/The Delta Society sent me...


Hi Susan –

I apologize as I missed sending you an email end of last week.

Thank you for your interest in our organization’s decision to expand our infection control policy for our Pet Partners (therapy animal) program. We recognize this is a complex issue with varying view points as feeding raw proteins to animals can impact both animal and human health. Many healthcare providers and Pet Partners have contacted us in support of this decision, as well as others who feel strongly about feeding a raw protein diet to their pets.

The Board Members of Delta Society appreciate all feedback – both positive and negative – in response to this expansion of our Pet Partners program infection control policy. Input has been thoughtfully reviewed and discussed, and it has been determined that for the added protection of patients/clients with compromised immune systems (who Pet Partners often are in contact with), we will continue to move forward with this program policy. Among the greatest voices for support of this policy have been doctors and representatives of health-related facilities across the nation.

The mission of Delta Society is “To help advance human health and well-being through positive interactions with animals”. The health of the patients/clients receiving Pet Partners visits is of paramount importance to Delta Society in all cases. This is the reason why we believe implementation of the raw protein diet policy is crucial.

We deeply appreciate all of our Pet Partner volunteers as they define the heart of the positive impact made in each of their communities. Their dedication to follow precautions so as not to put any patient/client with whom they visit at risk is evidence of their commitment to safely and responsibly helping others.

While we hope to retain all our Pet Partners teams, we fully respect the decision of those who may choose to no longer participate in the program, if they determine it is in the best interest of their pet’s health to remain on a raw protein diet. We appreciate and applaud that their first concern is the care and health of their pets – this completely follows one of our primary tenets for Pet Partners, ‘you are your pet’s best advocate’.

We have posted our latest information about our Pet Partners Program Raw Diet Policy on our website so all interested will have access to the same information:

Thank you again for your interest in learning more about this new program policy.

JoAnn Turnbull
Marketing Director
Delta Society


How can a 'Marketing Director' of a national charity "forget" to email someone? Someone that requested an interview and bothered to follow up? Perhaps it wasn't "forgot" after all; perhaps it was a non-verbal message (puppets don't speak).

So...did Delta Society answer my questions? That we waited on for three weeks? No.

The ONLY thing they did was slightly update their statement on their website regarding the raw feeding ban for Pet Partners. Slightly updated.

NO response to the overwhelming amount of information of all dog foods causing bacteria shedding.

NO response to questions of why such a short time frame for Pet Partners to comply.

NO response to pet foods that contain euthanized animals and diseased animals?

NO response to Ms. Bax of Purina Pet Food suspicious patent application.

Delta Society agreed to interview - changed their mind - and didn't have the integrity to tell me in advance.


One last request was sent to JoAnn Turnbull of Delta Soceity. The following was sent yesterday (in response to Delta's lack of response)...



I'm confused. I wrote Delta requesting an interview, was told yes to the interview, and many weeks later my questions are not answered. A slight update to information that Delta previously posted is all that you provide? Very confused. I understand the questions were not easy, but you did agree to interview without stipulations. I am asking you to reconsider.

Susan Thixton
Truth about Pet Food


No reply.


The 'Puppet Master' won't allow Delta to speak.

The decision of Delta Society to ban pets fed a raw diet remains one of the most disappointing and frightening decisions a national pet charity could ever make. Even if you do not feed a raw food diet to your pet, this action by The Delta Society should concern you a great deal. Every Pet Owner that has bothered to research and learn the best health options to care for their pet should be very concerned what the future will bring. Delta Society's reckless decision to become the puppet of Big Dogs has opened the door to denying educated pet owners the right to freedom of choice.

Unforgivable. Let's hope Delta's puppet strings don't entangle others.

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Truth about Pet Food
Petsumer Report