CAMDEN, N.J. — A federal judge Tuesday approved a $24-million settlement for owners of dogs and cats who were sickened or died after eating pet food contaminated with an industrial chemical.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman clears the way for affected U.S. pet owners to start getting checks next year. Under the deal, owners have until Nov. 24 to file claims.
The settlement is to compensate owners for expenses including the cost of the food, medical and burial expenses for their animals, the value of the animals or the cost of replacement pets, checkups for animals that ate the food but did not get sick, replacing carpets ruined by sick pets, and time the owners took off work to seek treatment for their animals.
Sherrie R. Savett, a lead lawyer for plaintiffs in the case, has said she believes that more than 1,500 animals in the U.S. died after eating the food last year. The tainted food was found to contain Chinese-made wheat gluten laced with melamine, an industrial chemical. Since then, the chemical used to make plastics and fertilizers has been found in a variety of food products from China.