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A proposed class action alleges Kalmbach Feeds, Inc. has failed to properly screen its Tribute Senior Sport horse feed for larger chunks of beet pulp during manufacturing, placing senior horses at serious risk of choking and death.
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According to the 23-page case, Kalmbach Feeds acknowledges on its website that beet pulp—one of the main ingredients in Tribute Senior Sport—can present a considerable choking hazard to horses whose chewing abilities and digestive tracts have deteriorated with age. Like other horse feed companies, the defendant purportedly removes larger chunks of pulp and other stray items during the manufacturing process to produce feed that it claims is “safely made” for consumption by senior horses, the lawsuit says.
However, the plaintiff, Serendipity Therapeutic Riding Center, a nonprofit charity in Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania, claims that two of its older horses who were feeding on Tribute Senior Sport in the spring of 2023 choked on large pieces of beet pulp that had not been adequately processed. The suit relays that one horse did not survive the incident.
The filing says that on April 30 of this year, Victory, a 24-year-old Hackney-Clydesdale the nonprofit used for adult riders who require full assistance and often use wheelchairs or walking aids, began “acting oddly,” refused to eat Senior Sport, developed a runny nose and high fever, had an elevated heart rate and was exhibiting rapid and shallow breathing.
After performing an ultrasound of Victory’s lungs, the veterinarian determined that the horse was suffering from aspiration pneumonia, an infection that can be caused by inhaling food, the case explains.
The lawsuit says the vet was called for a second time when Chance, a 29-year-old Kentucky Mountain Horse, developed the same symptoms three days later.
“While waiting for the vet to arrive, Serendipity’s staff began sifting through Victory’s and Chance’s grain bins, both which containing [sic] Tribute Senior Sport,” the complaint says. “Within minutes, they had a cup filled with what resembled beef jerky in both appearance and texture, which contained large pieces of beet pulp that had not been processed correctly.”
Chance was diagnosed with choke and, after a “generous amount of debris” was removed from his esophagus and a series of medications, the horse recovered from the incident, the filing relays. Per the suit, Victory refused to eat following his treatment and was euthanized on May 11.
Upon discovering the large chunks of beet pulp in the Tribute Senior Sport horse feed, Serendipity contacted its local distributor, the case says. According to the complaint, the distributor’s sales representative received a text message from Kalmbach Feeds stating that “there had been an issue with a screen in one of the machines used in the processing of Senior Sport that allowed large chunks of beet pulp to make its way into the grain.”
Several days later, Serendipity’s Executive Director received a call from an equine nutritionist employed by the defendant, who “denied that there was any problem with the screening of the beet pulp but suggested—without further explanation—Serendipity stop using Senior Sport for its senior horses and, instead, switch to the Resolve brand, which is a pelletized feed,” the case shares.
The suit argues that the equine nutritionist knew, contrary to Kalmbach Feeds’ representations, that the product was unsafe for senior horses with compromised teeth and digestive systems.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone in Pennsylvania who purchased Tribune Senior Sport between April 1 and May 30, 2023.
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