It’s not always easy to explain to people who do not share their lives with pets – be they dogs, cats, birds, reptiles or other creatures – why FDA and CDC should devote so much time and attention to an outbreak of Salmonella illnesses that has affected only a handful of people.

I could say that contaminated pet food matters because infected pets may transmit their illness to people. And that would be true.

I could say that contaminated pet food matters because a child might taste a piece of the food and become infected. And that would be true.

I could say that it is the responsibility of every manufacturer to provide a safe product, regardless of the target audience. And that would be true.

But I was reminded this morning of the real reason that contaminated pet food matters, when I read the story posted by an eFoodAlert reader. In case you missed it, here is the story of Jelly and Bishop, told by Linda (Pittsford, NY):

I was feeding both my 4-year-old and 6-year-old Portuguese Water Dogs Taste of the Wild Bison for about five years. My 4-year-old, Jelly, was about 38 pounds and a much smaller dog than my 6-year-old, Bishop who is larger and weighs about 55 pounds. (There is a range of sizes in the Portuguese Water Dog b/c fishermen with small boats bred smaller dogs; fishermen with larger boats bred larger dogs).

It was in January 2012 that I noticed some vomiting from Jelly. That discontinued, but bloody stools followed, first in Jelly, then beginning the next day in Bishop, as well.

I brought my dogs to the Vet.

Next I noticed Jelly was having urinary accidents all over the house. I didn’t understand this, b/c he was, of course house trained.

Bish did not do this. Jelly was VERY thirsty, and peeing all the time in huge amounts. After awhile, Jelly started to pee bloody urine, in very small amounts. I took him to the vet.

Then Bish started with this as well. Both back to the vet.

I felt my dogs were being poisoned, (I just had this feeling,) but I had no poisons in my home, and it was winter outside. I was perplexed.

The bloody urine went on for about a week, my vet doing all kinds of tests, X- rays, blood work. All the while, I was feeding my dogs Taste of the Wild, Bison, b/c the recall wasn’t announced until May,2012, and this was back in January 2012.

Jelly was at the vet’s for 4 hours on the day he died. He sat on my lap the whole time. I am grateful for those four hours.

The vet was unsure of what was happening. That afternoon, Jelly started to yelp in pain so horribly I knew it was the end. He stumbled about the room in a daze, screaming bloody murder. Then, immediately, he seized. I immediately drove him to the Emergency Hospital. He was incontinent of large amounts of urine on the way. At the hospital, he went into a coma, cardiac and respiratory arrested, and died.

Bishop recovered on his own, which I attribute to his larger size.

I miss Jelly so much and feel responsible for his awful death. I was his advocate, his protector, and here I was feeding him poison by the name of Taste of the Wild Bison Dog Food.

And that’s why contaminated pet food matters.